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Prints and Authors in the Time of Manet

Julia Margaret Cameron
English, 1815–1879

Alfred, Lord Tennyson
English, 1809–1892

Illustrations to Tennyson’s Idylls of the King and Other Poems, vol. 2

Albumen silver prints
Published by Henry S. King & Co., London, 1875
Mrs. George W. Stevens Fund, 1987.16a–l

At the instigation of her friend and neighbor Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Julia Margaret Cameron produced more than 200 16 x 12-inch albumen silver prints to serve as models for wood engravings to illustrate Tennyson’s new 1859 publication, Idylls of the King. Unfortunately, Tennyson’s publisher did not share the photographer’s vision and only two photographs were chosen for the book.
Disappointed, Cameron undertook the publication of her own book illustrating Tennyson’s poems. Sixteen years later, Cameron published two volumes of Illustrations to Tennyson’s Idylls of the King and Other Poems. Each volume was illustrated with 12 albumen silver prints.
Of her theory of photography Cameron wrote, “My aspirations are to ennoble Photography and to secure for it the character and uses of High Art by combining the real and ideal and sacrificing nothing of Truth by all possible devotion to Poetry and beauty.”