Monday, July 28, 2014

Lady Clementina Hawarden - The First Fashion Photographer

Clementina Maude, Viscountess Hawarden, (1822 – 1865), commonly known as Lady Clementina Hawarden, was a noted portrait photographer of the Victorian Era, producing over 800 photographs mostly of her adolescent daughters. She was possibly the first photographer to be obsessed with the way fabric hangs on the female form.

Lady Hawarden turned to photography in late 1857 or early 1858, whilst living on the estate of her husband's family in Dundrum, Co. Tipperary, Ireland. A move to London in 1859 allowed her to set up a studio in her elegant home in South Kensington. There she took many of the characteristic portraits for which she is principally remembered, many of which include her adolescent daughters Isabella Grace, Clementina, and Florence Elizabeth. The furniture and characteristic decor of an upper-class London home was removed in order to create mise-en-scene images and theatrical poses within the first floor of her home.

While Isabella Hawarden is wearing a conventional day dress, her sister Florence is wearing some kind of fancy dress or theatrical costume around which a piece of white material has been draped in a way which echoes the shape of Isabella’s dress, ca. 1863-64.

Clementina sitting at the window with the same material draped around her, ca. 1862-63.

This picture of Isabella was used by Penguin for the cover of an edition of Wilkie Collins’ Woman in White. It’s an appropriate choice. The image has an air of the loneliness and mystery which is a feature of Lady Hawarden’s work, ca. 1862-63.

Isabella and Clementina in bohemian dress, ca. 1863-64.

Here’s Clementina on her own giving off an air of twentieth century ennui in front of some curious wallpaper, ca. 1862.

Isabella and Clementina playing out some psychodrama as if they were in a narrative painting, ca. 1862-63.

Clementina channelling high emotion in a study of light and shade, ca. 1862-63.

Clementina dressed as a man with Isabella in period costume, ca. 1863-64.

Clementina sitting by the window, ca. 1863-64.

Clementina Maude, ca. 1863-64.

Clementina on either side of the mirror another world, ca. 1862-63.

(Information from Wikipedia, via The Library Time Machine)

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1 comment :

  1. The photos are amazing and they surprise the way that certain women worn in the past. Baseball fans will certainly have among their clothes a Babe Ruth shirt at least, and dancers will have tight clothes for their plays. Great colors and textures!