This photograph was made shortly after the death of Julia Margaret Cameron's only daughter, Julia Norman, in childbirth. Her widower, Charles Norman, is seated in the center with their two daughters. In their mother's absence, the daughters emotionally support their father. With their arms entwined around him and hands clasped near his heart, they envelop him in a tender, comforting embrace. Cameron probably directed this gesture, which adds great emotional impact.
Family was the cornerstone of Cameron's art and life. This and other photographs of the Normans represent a bonding among the remaining family. Making the series may have helped Cameron cope with her sense of loss. It was Charles and Julia Norman's gift of a camera that became the catalyst for her photography. Cameron later wrote in her annals: "My first lens was given to me by my cherished departed daughter and her husband, with the words, 'It may amuse you Mother, to try to photograph.' "