Title

The pre-raphaelite female muse in Julia margaret cameron’s “idylls of the king” photographs

Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Masterʼs Research Paper

Degree Name

M.A.

Department

Art & Art History

First Advisor

M.E. Warlick

Second Advisor

Annette Stott

Keywords

Cameron, Julia Margaret, --1815-1879 -- Criticism and interpretation, Portrait photography, Feminine beauty (Aesthetics)

Abstract

There has been little discussion of Julia Margaret Cameron’s Idylls of the King photographs over the past decade. My goal with this paper is to bring her Idylls of the King series back into discussion and address its success and relevance in both art history and literature. Scholars Helmut Gernsheim and Marylu Hill have questioned photography as a means to capture the imaginative content of Tennyson’s Arthurian stories and they declared Cameron’s photographs a failure. I argue that her theatrical style, use of props and costumes, obvious posing of her models, and nod to Victorian tableaux vivants capture the true essence of Tennyson’s epic. Her use of the Pre-Raphaelite female muse to portray the Arthurian characters of Elaine, Guinevere, and Vivien places her photographs in direct correlation with Pre-Raphaelite painting as well as popular literature. Her depictions of Tennyson’s epic poem are highly successful and I believe she achieved her personal goal of ennobling photography to the level of High Art.

Comments

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