The Rosebud Garden of Girls
The Rosebud Garden of Girls

The Rosebud Garden of Girls

Julia Margaret Cameron (British, 1815-1879)

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Cameron was born to a wealthy East India merchant and took up photography for her amusement at the age of 48. She became known for her portraits of the great men of the Victorian age, with whom she was well acquainted.

The Rosebud Garden of Girls was taken in the garden of Cameron’s neighbor on the Isle of Wight, the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, whose poem "Maud" supplied the title for this photograph.

The free-flowing hair and ethereal faces of these four sisters are reflective of the ideal of beauty established by the painters known as the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, with whom Cameron was closely connected.


Indianapolis Museum of Art: Highlights of the Collection (2005)

In the garden of the English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, four sisters posed for Tennyson's neighbor and friend Julia Margaret Cameron. This was no family snapshot, no captured moment of reality-the purpose for which William Henry Fox Talbot had invented his photographic process in 1839. Cameron meticulously orchestrated a tableau, personifying a verse in Tennyson's ""Come into the Garden, Maud,"" where flowers, ""in gloss of satin and glimmer of pearls,"" are ""sunning over with curls"" in a ""rosebud garden of girls.""

Cameron was forty-eight when her daughter gave her a camera in the hopes that it would ""amuse"" her, and with the assumption that she would join the legion of amateurs who were exploiting the increasingly easy and reliable picture-making possibilities of photography. Instead, Cameron embraced photography with a passionate zeal, challenging the highbrow position that photography was too scientific and too mechanical to be a fine art. By softening the focus, managing the light, and costuming her sitters in homage to her literary sources, Cameron dissolved the boundary between fact-the province of the photographer-and fiction-the realm of the creative artist. She aimed to achieve the same ethereal ideal of beauty that inspired the Victorian poets and the Pre-Raphaelite painters with whom she was closely connected.

My aspirations are to ennoble Photography and to secure for it the character and uses of high Art.
-Julia Margaret Cameron, 1864

(Lee Marks Fine Art, Shelbyville, Indiana); purchased by the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 1993 (1993.16).

Object Information

Julia Margaret Cameron (British, 1815-1879)
creation date
albumen print
12-1/16 x 10- 5/8 in. (image)
mark descriptions
Inscribed in ink, below image, l.l.: From Life Registered Photograph Freshwater Bay July 1868
Signed in ink on mount, l.r.: Julia Margaret Cameron
Inscribed in pencil on mount l.c.: 'The Rose bud garden of girls' see Maud
Blindstamp on mount, l.c.: [REG
accession number
credit line
Allen Whitehill Clowes Fund
Public Domain
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

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