11 Pioneering Women Photographers, from Julia Margaret Cameron to Helen Levitt
12 1/4 x 10 1/4 in. (31.1 x 26 cm)
3 1/8 x 2 1/4 in. (7.9 x 5.7 cm)
From the Catalogue:
The two photographs in this lot show Dejátch Álámáyou (1861-1879), an Abyssinian prince who was raised in Britain as a ward of the government. In April 1868, British troops fought against Álámáyou’s father, King Tewodros (Theodore). Tewodros killed himself after his army was defeated, and his orphaned son was placed in the care of the swashbuckling British officer Captain Tristram Charles Speedy, who is pictured in the smaller of the photographs offered here. Speedy had served in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia), had known King Tewodros, spoke Amharic fluently, and was in many ways an ideal guardian for the seven-year-old boy. In England, the pair were presented to Queen Victoria, who was captivated by the boy, his story, and his charismatic escort. Álámáyou thenceforth was frequently the subject of the Queen’s benevolence and was her guest at Balmoral on several occasions. Immediately recognizable, Álámáyou became a public figure, an exotic and fascinating visitor from a far-off land.
Cameron’s photographs of Álámáyou and Speedy were made in July 1868, shortly after their arrival in England. Ten images survive from this sitting (Cox 1114-23), and they show Cameron making full use of an array of African clothing, shields, and weaponry (all likely from Speedy’s own collection, which now resides in the British Museum). The images of Álámáyou and Speedy together are poignant for showing the bond that existed between the two. The single portrait of Álámáyou offered here is the only large-format print of the image located by Cameron authority Julian Cox.
—Courtesy of Phillips
Signature: The first signed, dated and inscribed in ink and with facsimile title and 'Colnaghi' blindstamp on the mount; the second annotated in an unidentified hand in pencil on the reverse of the mount.
The first: National Portrait Gallery, London, Julia Margaret Cameron: 19th Century Photographer of Genius, 6 February- 26 May 2003, traveling to the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television, Bradford, and J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Cox & Ford, Julia Margaret Cameron: The Complete Photographs, nos. 1114, 1123 (this print)
Christie's, South Kensington, 10 March 1977, lot 227
Collection of Paul F. Walter, New York
Sotheby's, London, Fine Photographs from the Collection of Paul F. Walter, 10 May 2001, lot 119
Collection of Erich Sommer, London
Christie’s, South Kensington, 8 May 1998, lot 42
One of the early pioneers of photographic portraiture, Julia Margaret Cameron began her career at the age of 48. “From the first moment, I handled my lens with a tender ardor," she wrote, "and it has become to me as a living thing, with voice and memory and creative vigor." Cameron trained herself to master the laborious steps of producing negatives with wet collodion on glass plates, favoring slight blurs in her images and looser compositions than the polished portraits of her colleagues. She moved in the high intellectual circles of Victorian England, capturing leading academics and artists such as Lord Tennyson and Charles Darwin. Many critics praised her originality, though others derided her for slovenly technique. Drawing inspiration from historical and contemporary writers and painters, Cameron also staged scenes from history or literature, such as her photographic illustrations of Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, and regularly enlisted family members, friends, and domestic servants as models for Madonnas, Christ figures, and angels
British, 1815-1879, Kolkata, India, based in London, United Kingdom