A devoted mother, a devout Christian, and the wife of a high colonial official in India twenty years her senior, Julia Margaret Cameron began her photographic career when she was nearly fifty years old. She was extremely well-read and a friend of the writers Thomas Carlyle, Robert Browning, Lewis Carroll, and Alfred, Lord Tennyson, to mention only a few. Whenever she could, Cameron imposed upon her famous acquaintances, family, and servants to pose for her, insisting they endure excruciatingly long sessions before her camera. Her soft-focus style, the result of intuition more than design, suited her all-pervasive love for the ideal and for beauty.

Though actually not published as an illustration for Blake's poem, this photograph is an allegorical representation of the ideas embodied in the passage quoted above. The girl is Mary Ryan, a maidservant and ward of Cameron who frequently assisted and modeled for her. The photograph is dedicated to "the bride of King Cophetua," a reference to one of the illustrations Cameron had made for Tennyson's Idylls of the King using her "Irish begger maid" Mary as one of the characters in the story.


  • Title: The Wild Flower
  • Creator: Julia Margaret Cameron
  • Creator Lifespan: 1815 - 1879
  • Creator Nationality: British
  • Creator Gender: Female
  • Date Created: 1867
  • Physical Dimensions: w7.3 x h9.2 cm (sheet)
  • Type: Photograph
  • External Link: MFAH
  • Medium: Albumen print
  • Credit Line: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Sonia and Kaye Marvins Portrait Collection, museum purchase with funds provided by Sonia and Kaye Marvins

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