Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lady Clementina Hawarden - Isabella Grace Maude and Clementina Maude, 5 Princes Gardens; Photographic Study

This is one of Lady Hawarden’s most interesting ‘Photographic Studies’ or ‘Studies from Life’, as she titled her photographs. Her two eldest daughters are shown seated in the family home, one reading and the other sewing. On the wall above the fireplace is an array of framed etchings by Francis Seymour Haden. Haden was the family physician and was also related to the painter James McNeill Whistler. He based a number of etchings on photographs by Hawarden. Above the group of framed pictures is a photograph by Oscar Rejlander, ‘After Raphael’s Sistine Madonna’. In it, two children re-enact the composition of Raphael’s famous painting of the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child, which is now in Dresden.

Rejlander wrote an obituary of Hawarden after her death in 1864. His pioneering creative work during the 1850s is likely to have encouraged Hawarden’s own experiments. The photograph documents a domestic moment but also records significant aspects of Hawarden’s artistic environment. Viewed through a stereoscope, this stereograph would have yielded clear and detailed images of the pictures on the wall.

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