About this artwork

In 1843 Thomas Carlyle published ‘Past and Present’, the most articulate mid-century expression of romantic principle. The book contrasted a modern world degraded by machines and money to the fulfilment offered by a medieval monastic community. ‘Past and Present’ had a profound influence on Victorian society: thirty years later the art critic, John Ruskin, was still recommending it to his readers, suggesting that they learn it “by heart”. Julia Margaret Cameron’s extraordinary animated portrait of Carlyle communicated something of the intellectual force of the author’s vision.

Julia Margaret Cameron

Julia Margaret Cameron