Clementina, Viscountess Hawarden

Clementina, Viscountess Hawarden

Clementina, Viscountess Hawarden (1822-65)
'Photographic Study'
Portrait of the photographer's daughter
England
1857-64
Albumen print from a collodion-on-glass negative
Width 23.5 cm x height 23.8 cm
Museum no. 372-1947
Given by Lady Clementina Tottenham

The Photograph

This photograph shows her daughter Clementina (born 1847) posed in fancy dress in the light-filled interior of 5 Princes Gardens. The image is typical of the highly sensuous and evocative interior scenes which Lady Hawarden produced. She often used props such as mirrors, drapes and rugs and dressed her children in theatrical costume.

In this photograph, as in many others, the sitter is posed to suggest a heightened moment within a suggested, but not explicit, narrative. Lady Hawarden was working at a time when photography was becoming commercialised, but amateurs, such as Lady Hawarden, were free to explore aesthetics, concentrating, for example, on the possibilities of light and creation of 'tableaux vivants'. Her work has been much analysed in recent years by feminist art historians, who have found in her images a radical revision of the female subject.

The Photographer

Clementina Elphinstone Fleeming was born near Glasgow in 1822. She became Lady Hawarden on her marriage in 1845 to Cornwallis Maude, 4th Viscount Hawarden. In 1857 the Hawardens moved to Dundrum, the family estate in Ireland, where Lady Hawarden began photographing the romantic landscape. It is likely that Oscar Rejlander instructed her in photography.

In 1859 they returned to London, to a newly built house at 5 Princes Gardens, South Kensington, close to the South Kensington Museum, which is now the V&A. The first floor of the Princes Gardens home was given over to Lady Hawarden's photography. She mainly used her eldest children (she gave birth to ten children) as models for her photographs.

She first showed her photographs at the 1863 Photographic Society of London exhibition and was awarded a silver medal for 'the best contribution by an amateur'. At the Society's 1864 exhibition she was awarded a silver medal for 'the best group, or composition or compositions, each from a single negative'. In the following year, at the age of 42, she died of pneumonia.

 

This photograph can be found in Print Room Box 13.