14 March 2007

Lady Clementina Hawarden

We’re back in Europe for the next installment of Women's History Month artists (artistresses?). Across the channel in Britain, where in 1861, Lady Clementina Hawarden was busy taking pictures of, among other things, the neat things her dog could do.

Most of her surviving photographs are in the V&A in London, where I found this image along with everything else I can report about Hawarden. I love a good, informative page.

Haraden was a respected photographer, and even won silver medals at the Photographic Society of London. Many of her photographs are of her daughters play-acting, posing in costume, or otherwise being theatrical in their home. I think photography gave Hawarden an opportunity to entertain fantasy, realize imaginations, and explore slight variations on reality. Like the dog's precarious perch, the images of her family that I find most engaging are the ones that feature uncommon moments.

Another interesting note: see how the edges of the photograph are missing? Apparently the prints held by the V&A were damaged when someone removed them from an album before the museum acquired them. Of the ripped, cut, cropped corners, the V&A text offered the general observation that, "the state of a print reveals much about a photograph's material history." I like that.


Vatti said...

I was wondering about the missing corners... Impatience?

Mary Ann said...

Well, yeah, but I don't think it was that simple. The pictures were at some point cut or ripped out of albums, which must have been secured at the corners. The corners are missing from all the images. This happened at some point before the V&A acquired the iamges in the late 1930s.

Maybe the person who removed them from the album pages was impatient. More likely, they didn't think it mattered. Hawarden's work wasn't important, she wasn't famous, no one cared if the corners were missing or not.

Dad said...

How nice that they have been salvaged but how sad that someone made the decision on their importance or lack there of and took the liberty to cut off the corners.