Reduced albumen print. Photograph by Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879) of a scene from Alfred Lord Tennyson's 'Idylls of the King'. The poem tells the tragic story of the peasant girl Elaine who falls in love with Lancelot. Here, she is guarding his shield. Cameron's photographic portraits are considered among the finest in the early history of photography. She set up a private studio at her Isle of Wight home at the age of 48, after her daughter gave her a camera, and she became expert at using the collodion wet-plate process. She used friends, servants and neighbours as subjects, including Tennyson and Thomas Carlyle, and the scientists John Herschel and Charles Darwin.
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London