Museum Purchase, Lloyd O. and Marjorie Strong Coulter Fund
Julia Margaret Cameron was a self-taught nineteenth-century photographer who, for approximately a decade during the height of the Victorian Era, made photographs of family, friends, and people hired to work for the family. By using photography to illustrate allegorical, religious, and literary themes, Cameron sought to raise the medium to a level of erudition equal with that of painting. In this photograph, Cameron’s parlor maid, Mary Hillier, poses as Maud, the title character of a Tennyson poem about a melancholic man’s forbidden love for the “queen rose of the rosebud garden of girls”. Deliberately photographed slightly out of focus, this moody visualization of Tennyson’s poem shows a somber young woman standing against a brick wall wreathed in passionflowers.