A Thousand Words

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The Dark Victorians continue to be a highly unique and active group within the many and varied social institutions of Caledon, currently mounting an exhibit of Victorian era photography in Caledon Regency.

The photographs themselves are an interesting glimpse into the Victorian era, including many excellent portraits that provide  further insight into the minds and motives of our Victorian ancestors.

Assembled and curated by Violet Schnabel, Femme Fatale of the  Dark Victorians, the collection mainly focuses on the portraiture of Julia Margaret Cameron, most of which I had ever seen before. I found her portraits of women to be especially interesting and striking, showing a tremendous depth of feeling. I felt that there were powerful stories behind each portrait.  Several other portraits of luminaries by Cameron, such as a famous image of Charles Darwin, are also presented.

Included in the shows are a few landscapes by Lewis Carroll, random pieces by several different artists and some interesting Spirit portraits by William Mumler. While these are clearly faked by using double negatives, the composition of the “spectral” additions are interesting, and speak to the credulity of an era desperate to believe.

Overall, the show was pleasing and certainly worth a look, however, I felt that there was a certain lack of detail and polish to the proceedings. For example, some of the portraits were ill hung, either a bit off, or tilted slightly away from the wall. Also, to my view they wanted for frames very much. These however are small, picayune matters of presentation.

A more pressing and important need, I feel, is for more documentation. I badly wanted a notecard or exhibit explaining to me who Julia Margaret Cameron was, and some of the background information about her remarkable portraits. Surely there must be quite a story behind a woman taking photographs of mainly women in the Victorian Era.

All in all, it is a pleasure to see the Dark Victorians continue to enliven the Caledonian arts scene with their unique perspective, and I congratulate and thank Miss Schnable for sharing these images with all of us.

The exhibit can be found HERE.

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Yours truly (above), at the entry to the Camera Obscura show.

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Some of the works of Lewis Carrol and Julia Margaret Cameron (above)

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Portraits of Darwin and Herschel by Cameron (above)

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My favorite portrait in the show, Sadness by Julia Margaret Cameron (above).

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Spiritualist portraits by William Mumler (above).

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2 Comments

  1. thank you for pointing this exhibit out… I will endeavour to see it. :)

  2. “Sadness” is of the actress Ellen Terry; more (unfortunately sparse and general) information can be found on Ms. Cameron’s Wiki page.

    Now that it occurs to me, I am wondering about that; I always thought it was a matter of convenience, that she was picking and choosing on photographic subjects from her guests, but her choosing mostly women as models, female beauty…it does say something.


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