It was from Sir John Herschel that Cameron received word of the invention of photography in 1839, but she did not own a camera until 1863. Principally known as an astronomer but also accomplished as a chemist and physicist, Herschel is credited with several contributions to the development of photography during its early years. Cameron’s portrayals of Herschel, considered among her finest work, exemplify qualities of style considered revolutionary for their day. The intense close-up pose, evocative lighting, dramatic focus, and absence of extraneous details combine to present images intended to serve as windows into the sitter’s soul. Among the ranks of early photographers, few women received the professional acknowledgment granted to Cameron.
Artist Julia Margaret Cameron, English, 1815 - 1879
Title
  • Sir John Herschel
Date 1867
Medium albumen print
Dimensions Image: 13 3/4 × 10 1/4 inches (34.9 × 26 cm)
Mount: 21 × 17 1/2 inches (53.3 × 44.5 cm)
Credit Line Founders Society Purchase, Miscellaneous Gifts Fund
Accession Number 73.37
Department Prints, Drawings & Photographs
Not On View
Signed Signed on mount, in pen and brown ink, lower right: Julia Margaret Cameron
Marks Drystamp, on mount, bottom center: REGISTERED PHOTOGRAPH | SOLD BY | MESSRS COLNAGHI | 14 PALL MALL EAST | LONDON
Inscriptions Inscribed on mount, in pen and brown ink, lower center: From life taken [illegible word] John Herschel's own residence Collingwood April 1867.
On mount, in pen and brown ink and pen and black ink, bottom center: With affectionate regards and best wishes | from | J.F.W. Herschel | Nov. 18, 1870
The Halsted Gallery (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, USA);
1973-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Becker, William. "The First Portraitist Julia Margaret Cameron." Camera 35 24, 10 (October 1979): 18, 80, p. 23 (ill.).

DeGrace, Margaret. "This Month's Cover, Sir John Herschel." DAC News (March 1982): 8, cover (ill.).

Rodgers, Malcolm. Camera Portraits: Photographs from the National Portrait Gallery 1839-1989. London, 1989, p. 83 (ill.).

Symmes, M.F. "Portraits and Their Makers." Michigan Quarterly Review 21, no. 4 (Fall 1982): 579- 588, pl. 1 (ill.).