Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lady Clementina Hawarden - Study from life

Object Type
This photograph is the only known surviving print of this image, made by one the pioneers of early fine art photography. Clementina, Lady Hawarden (1822-1865) entitled her works simply Photographic Study or Study from Life.

Materials & Making
Hawarden used seven different cameras in her work, culminating in one which took plates of approximately 10x10 inch format. The photographs are albumen prints (light sensitive silver salts in an emulsion of egg white) printed from wet collodion (gun-cotton in ether) on glass negatives. A wet collodion negative consists of a sheet of glass hard-coated with a thin film. Hawarden's photographs were probably pasted into albums and torn out before entering the Museum's collections. This is why many of the corners of the pictures are irregular and torn.

Subjects Depicted
Hawarden's favoured subjects were her children, two of her daughters in particular.

Ownership & Use
The Museum has 775 photographs by Hawarden in its collection all from the donation given in 1939 by her descendant, Lady Clementina Tottenham.

In 1859 Hawarden established a studio and darkroom on the first floor of her newly-built London house at 5 Princes Gardens (now demolished). It was a few hundred yards north of the South Kensington (later Victoria and Albert) Museum.

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