Julia Margaret Cameron (England, 1815-1879): Charles Darwin

Albumen print, 11.25 x 9.5 inches, 1868

On mount: blindstamp of Messrs. Colnaghi (Mrs. Cameron's printsellers) and a facsimile inscription in Darwin's hand, "I like this Photograph very much better than any other which has been taken of me. Ch. Darwin"

Darwin and his family went to Freshwater, Isle of Wight, for a long summer holiday in 1868. Mrs. Cameron, who lived and worked at Freshwater, obtained a sitting from the great naturalist. Helmut Gernsheim describes their encounter in Julia Margaret Cameron: Her Life and Photographic Work (Aperture, New York: 1975):

She received the whole family with open-hearted kindness and hospitality, and Darwin always retained a warm feeling of friendship for her. When they left she came to see them off, loading them with presents of photographs. Moved, Darwin said: "Mrs. Cameron, there are sixteen people in this house, all in love with you." Darwin paid her for her portraits of him, and as the Camerons had by that time lost a great deal of money through the continued failure of the coffee crop, she gladly accepted payment and ran boasting to her husband, "Look, Charles, what a lot of money!"

This rich print was given by Darwin to Dr. Samuel H. Scudder, making it an unusually rare example of a Cameron portrait with an American provenance. Dr. Scudder was a paleoentomologist, an important historian of scientific literature, the Librarian of Harvard University, and one of the first editors of the journal Science. It is accompanied by the original framer's label (marked "The property of Samuel H. Scudder") and by notations from subsequent owners tracing its history.


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