Julia Margaret Cameron (English, born in India, 1815-1879)
"Circe" (Kate Keown), 1865
25.2 x 20.2 cm mounted on 32.5 x 27.6 cm paper
Signed, titled, numbered "2", annotated "Fr. Life" in ink, and embossed "Colnaghi" stamp, on mount
Cameron sought to record through the faces of her family and friends the qualities of innocence, wisdom, piety, or passion ascribed to great biblical, historical, and legendary figures. Cameron used a long exposure and shallow depth of field to give that slight sense of animation which merges the young girl, Kate Keown, with the mythic character Circe, seemingly bringing her into the viewer's presence in this fine print. In Greek mythology, Circe is a goddess of magic, the daughter of Helios, the sun god, and Perse, an Oceanid nymph. Renowned for her vast knowledge of potions and herbs, Circe is exiled to the solitary island of Aeaea by her father Helios for killing her husband. Once there she lures sailors to the island, including the crew of Odysseus, transforming them into swine.