Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: Elphinstone Agnes Maude, Barefoot, c. 1859-1861

Elphinstone Agnes Maude, Barefoot
Lady Hawarden, c. 1859
The Victoria & Albert Museum

I've seen Bertie make this same face.

Photographed between 1859 and 1861 by Clementina, Lady Hawarden (1822-1865), this image of a seemingly spontaneous moment of childish petulance took hours to set-up, pose and photograph in the wet collodion on glass negative process in use in the late 1850s.  

Lady Hawarden was described by her family as the "great baby lover," an affection evident in her many photographic portraits of children, most of them her own.  Clementina had a reputation as a devoted mother.  Lady Hawarden's uncle, Mountstuart Elphinstone, said of Clementina's brood that he "never saw nicer children or better brought up. It seems strange in Clemy who could never keep her own shawl in order & whose devotion to her children seemed enough to spoil a whole generation, but her good sense and regard to duty has kept all right."

This charming image in sepia, mounted on green card, was taken in South Kensington and shows that Clementina's children, especially Elphinstone Agnes Maude (pictured here), were more than happy to participate in their mother's photographic experiments.  

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