Alexander Averin

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Family Silver

Dear Diary,

A quick blog today, it is Saturday and as I am off sick from work I am enjoying being home and having a normal weekend which is quite novel for me.  The weather is fine, quite warm and dry but the soil is still too wet to plant bulbs. I bought tulips, daffodils and alliums ages ago but since then the soil has been either frozen or over-wet. Never mind, I am not up to gardening at the moment and M will have to do the work, hopefully tomorrow when the soil may be that bit drier; if the weather forecasters are right we are in for a dry spell.

I have just enjoyed a wee stroll outside in the field with the dogs, the colours all around  are still achingly beautiful ; I love autumn so and especially on days like this.  It is a complete contrast to yesterday which was grey, extremely so and wet with it.

Today I am posting some pics of photos by the wonderful photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. I caught a bit of the TV programme ‘Flog it’ yesterday and saw that a Berkshire grammar school had sold off one of her photos.  The photograph (a gift to the school) sold at auction for £8,000.

The photograph is one of Sir John Herschel, a German-born British astronomer, technical expert, and a composer. Herschel became most famous for the discovery of Uranus in addition to two of its major moons.

In a recent recording of the ever popular BBC series of 'Flog It!' at Henley Town Hall, the stand-out item of the day was a photograph of scientist and astronomer Sir John Herschel taken by Julia Margaret Cameron, one of the preeminent photographers of the 19th century.  Researchers are to investigate the history of the photograph, which could fetch thousands when it is flogged off at Cameo Auctioneers, near Reading.

Apparently the photo had been on the school office wall for years. This angered me, firstly because it had been a gift to the school and if it was in the office it was depriving the school children of the gift of seeing it,   And selling it in the current climate any money they make is soon to be worth less with inflation but worst of all, should one really sell something that was a gift to the school?  It smacks of selling off the family silver to me and resounds with the current crime that is closing public libraries.

Paul Martin the rather nice antique expert on Flog It admitted that Julia Margaret Cameron was his favourite photographer, I have always loved her work too.  Surely our schools are not that hard up that they have to stoop to these measures to raise funds and if they are there is indeed something very wrong with our society.
I am sure it would never happen in Ireland. 
Rant over.
I hope you enjoy the photos.

Bye for now,
Enjoy the weekend!
Go mbeannai Dia duit,


Fennie said...

I wonder when the first photograph was taken of someone smiling? Was it just that long exposure that made all nineteenth century subjects look grim? Or was it fashion, smiling being deeply unserious?

Hope you feel better soon Cait. If not I can recommend the whisky and aspirin remedy.

Mac n' Janet said...

I agree, one doesn't sell a gift and that goes for the school too.

Vee said...

Perhaps it is going to a place where it will be better appreciated. That's about the best thought that I can think for this story. I'd be interested also if I were a citizen of that community how the monies will be spent from the sale of the photograph.

Angela Bell said...

Have you read The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes !!

e said...

I do hope you are soon on the mend. I'm going to look up this photographer.

Frances said...

Cait, I cannot quite remember when I first became aware of the beauty of Ms Cameron's photographs. All I do know is that once I saw them, I knew I would always recognize her work.

I do agree with you that there is something very wrong about a school selling such treasures. My own alma mater also fell upon rough financial times a ways back, and began to sell off its art collection, amongst other drastic moves, that have now truly changed the entire spirit of that college and alienated many alums, like myself.

Well, after that rant, let me once again say how much I do like Julia Margaret Cameron's portraits.

And also your wonderful posts! xo

Ruth said...

The quality of the old silver gelatin prints, and tintypes, is incredibly beautiful to me. These are so evocative, especially the first. I had heard Cameron's name but was not familiar with her work. Thank you for sharing, and the story/rant, about which I have to agree with you!

Dave King said...

Really interesting pics, bothin their own right and historically. I agree with you re the gift to the school.

Joy said...

It's tricky whether to sell or not in this current economic condition. But I agree with you. It was definitely seen as 'selling the family silver'.
I've also reposted this blog on my facebook page.
Hope that's OK.
Get well soon :)