The First Fashion Photographer
British (1822 – 1865)
Clementina Maude, Viscountess Hawarden, née Clementina Elphinstone Fleeming (1 June 1822 – 19 January 1865), commonly known as Lady Clementina Hawarden, was a noted portrait photographer of the Victorian Era, producing over 800 photographs mostly of her adolescent daughters, Isabella Grace, Clementina, and Florence Elizabeth.
Clementina was one of five children of Admiral Charles Elphinstone Fleeming. She turned to photography in late 1857 or early 1858, whilst living on the estate of her husband’s family in Ireland. In 1859 she moved to London and set up a studio in her house in South Kensington.
Hawarden produced albumen prints from wet-plate collodion negatives, a method commonly used at the time. Introduced in 1851, wet-collodion negatives were widely used since the exposure time was relatively short, and the tone and focus of the resulting photograph were good.
The Viscountess Hawarden first exhibited in the annual exhibition of the Photographic Society of London in January 1863 and was elected a member of the Society the following March. Her work was widely acclaimed for its “artistic excellence”, winning her the medal for composition at the exhibition. Hawarden was considered an amateur photographer and while appreciated for her work, never became widely known as a photographer.
Lewis Carroll, also a photographer, was an admirer of Hawarden’s work.Her work is also likened to Julia Margaret Cameron. Carol Mavor writes extensively about the place of Hawarden’s work in the history of
Victorian photography as well as contemporary interpretations of the work. She states: “Hawarden’s pictures raise significant issues of gender, motherhood, and sexuality as they relate to photography’s inherent attachments to loss, duplication and replication, illusion, fetish.”
Hawarden produced over eight hundred photographs from 1857-1864 before her sudden death.
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