THE DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE VISITS NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY EXHIBITION
The Duchess of Cambridge paid a visit to the National Portrait Gallery on Wednesday 28th February, to unveil a personal selection of portraits that comprise a Patron's Trail of the major new exhibition Victorian Giants: The Birth of Art Photography, which opens today (Thursday 1st March). The Duchess has been Patron of the National Portrait Gallery since 2012 and carefully selected seven images from the exhibition for which she has written personal captions displayed alongside the photographs.
During her visit, The Duchess took a tour of the Victorian Giants exhibition with Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery and Phillip Prodger, curator of the exhibition, before meeting lenders and supporters in the Gallery's Ondaatje Wing Main Hall.
The Duchess, an enthusiastic amateur photographer, has also written a foreword to the exhibition catalogue in which she discusses her interest in nineteenth-century photography, the subject of her undergraduate thesis while an art history student at the University of St Andrews. She also explains that photographs of children, which feature predominantly within the exhibition, are of particular interest to her.
The Duchess also points out that Queen Victoria and especially Prince Albert, became enthusiastic patrons of the new art form following its invention in 1839. One of the exhibition’s four featured photography pioneers, Oscar Rejlander, undertook commissions for the Royal Family and works by him have been borrowed for the exhibition from the Royal Collection at Windsor.
Victorian Giants: The Birth of Art Photography
Running from 1st March – 20th May 2018, this exhibition brings together for the first time portraits by Oscar Rejlander (1813–75), Lewis Carroll (1832–98), Julia Margaret Cameron (1815–79) and Lady Clementina Hawarden (1822-65).
The four created an unlikely alliance:
- Rejlander was a Swedish émigré with a mysterious past.
- Cameron was a middle-aged expatriate from colonial Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).
- Carroll was an Oxford academic and writer of fantasy literature.
- Lady Clementina was a member of the landed gentry, the child of a Scottish naval hero and a Spanish beauty, 26 years younger.
Yet, Cameron, Carroll and Lady Clementina briefly studied under Rejlander, and maintained lasting associations, exchanging ideas about portraiture and narrative. Influenced by historical painting and frequently associated with the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, they formed a bridge between the art of the past and the art of the future, standing as true giants in Victorian photography. Their radical attitudes towards photography have informed artistic practice ever since.
This must-see exhibition is the first to examine the relationship between the four ground-breaking artists. Drawn from public and private collections around the world, it features some of the most breath-taking images in photographic history, including many that have not been seen in Britain since they were made.