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Annie Chinery Cameron as Zuleika. Photograph by Julia Margaret Cameron, ca. 1872.

Cameron, Julia Margaret, 1815-1879.


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Credit: Annie Chinery Cameron as Zuleika. Photograph by Julia Margaret Cameron, ca. 1872. Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)

About this work


Portrait of Annie, née Chinery, wife of Ewan Wrottesley Hay Cameron, second son of Julia Margaret Cameron and Charles Hay Cameron (Cox et al., loc. cit.) Comment on this photograph kindly supplied to the Wellcome Institute by Jan Marsh, from Pre-Raphaelite women artists by Jan Marsh and Pamela Gerrish Nunn, loc.cit.: Zuleika is the tragic heroine of Byron's narrative poem The bride of Abydos (1815), victim of the conflict between romantic love and a politically arranged marriage. Popular during Cameron's youth, the poem both sensationalises "Oriental despotism" and dramatises the divided loyalties of a loving daughter who responds to the desires of her heart. The lines that most nearly correspond to the artist's image are those in which Selim watches Zuleika through a lattice door: "She snatched the urn wherein was mixed /The Persian Atar-gul's perfume, /And sprinkled all its odours o'er /The pictured roof and marble floor ...". As yet insecurely dated, the image is linked by Weaver (3.51) to that of Rebecca, traditionally shown with a pitcher. But Zuleika is also one of several renderings [by Cameron] of female figures in "Eastern" dress such as Pharoah's daughter (1866, Royal Photographic Society) and Woman in Egyptian costume (c.1873, University of Texas) which indicate Cameron's range of pictorial invention. It may be compared with Holman Hunt's full-length figure The afterglow in Egypt, (1863, Southampton). While it would be nice to see in her choice of Byron's doomed heroine a contemporary comment on the subjection of women, it is more likely that Cameron was attracted to the Romantic aspect of Zuleika's story, as comparably in the scene from Sordello [cat. 37]



Physical description

1 photograph : photoprint, albumen

Publications note

Mike Weaver, Julia Margaret Cameron 1815-1879, Southampton: John Hansard Gallery, 1984, p. 127, no. 3.51, reproduced with comment "Cameron has compounded the image of Zuleika, the heroine of Byron's poem "The bride of Abydos" (1815), with that of Rebecca. According to Jameson, the latter was considered "as a type of Church (the SPOUSE), and consequently of the Virgin Mary.' [Anna] Jameson and [Lady] Eastlake, History of our Lord [2 vols., London 1864], I:146"

Jan Marsh and Pamela Gerrish Nunn, Pre-Raphaelite women artists, Manchester City Art Galleries 1997, p. 126, no. 39

Julian Cox et al., Julia Margaret Cameron: the complete photographs, London 2003, no. 200, p. 193


Wellcome Library no. 14079i


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