Lady Clementina Hawarden (1822 – 1865) was a noted portrait photographer of the Victorian Era.
She turned to photography in late 1857 or early 1858, whilst living on the estate of her husband’s family in Dundrum, Co. Tipperary, Ireland. A move to London in 1859 allowed her to set up a studio in her elegant home in South Kensington.
The furniture and characteristic decor of an upper-class London home was removed in order to create mise-en-scène images and theatrical poses within the first floor of her home – Hawarden’s characteristic portraits include her daughters Isabella Grace, Clementina, and Florence Elizabeth.
Hawarden produced albumen prints from wet-plate collodion negatives, a method commonly used at the time. Her work was widely acclaimed for its “artistic excellence”. Hawarden was considered an amateur photographer and while appreciated for her work, never became widely known as a photographer. Her photographic years were brief but prolific. Hawarden produced over eight hundred photographs from 1857-1864 before her sudden death. she died after suffering from pneumonia for one week, aged 42. It has been suggested that her immune system was weakened by constant contact with the photographic chemicals.
Her work is likened to Julia Margaret Cameron, another Victorian female photographer.
A photograph that is possibly a self-portrait of Clementina, Lady Hawarden, taken in about 1862.
Isabella by Clementina, Lady Hawarden
Isabella by Lady Clementina Hawarden
Clementina reading while sitting at the window wearing some kind of fancy dress or theatrical costume, ca. 1862-63 by Lady Clementina Hawarden.
Clementina, reading a book by Clementina, Lady Hawarden