May Prinsep as Christabel. Photograph by Julia Margaret Cameron, 1866.
- Cameron, Julia Margaret, 1815-1879.
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About this work
"'Yea, she doth smile, and she doth weep, / Like a youthful hermitess, / Beauteous in a wilderness.'--Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Coleridge's unfinished poem "Christabel" (1816) tells the story of a young woman debased by sorcery. A dark poem, full of rolling fog and lesbian innuendo, "Christabel" was the kind of tale that appealed to the Victorian palate--a soup of sexual transgression and moral repair. Cameron rarely made portraits of women; rather, when she photographed them, they appeared as representations of some biblical, mythological, or literary figure. Cameron's niece, May Prinsep, who would later marry Hallam Tennyson, son of the poet laureate, appears here as the ethereal Christabel before her corruption." – online catalogue of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
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