Hawarden, Clementina (1822–1865)

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Hawarden, Clementina (1822–1865)

English photographer of posed figure studies. Name variations: Lady Clementina Hawarden. Pronunciation: HAY-ward-en. Born Clementina Elphinstone Fleeming (pronounced "Fleming") at Cumbernauld House, near Glasgow, Scotland, in 1822; died in South Kensington, London, England, in 1865; daughter of Admiral Charles Elphinstone Fleeming and Catalina Paulina (Alessandro) Fleeming; married Cornwallis Maude, later 4th viscount Hawarden and 1st earl de Montalt, in 1845; children: ten (seven daughters and one son survived infancy).

Part of a group of aristocratic British women who began to practice photography during the 1850s, Lady Clementina Hawarden distinguished herself by moving beyond the role of family chronicler to that of experimental artist.

The daughter of the Honorable Charles Fleeming and his Spanish wife Catalina Alessandro Fleeming , Hawarden married the future fourth viscount Hawarden in 1845, and during the next 20 years gave birth to ten children, eight of whom lived beyond infancy. She did not take up photography until 1857, after her husband's inheritance increased the family income. Working from her townhouse in London, and occasionally from the family's Irish estate in Dundrum, Hawarden had only eight productive years before her untimely death of pneumonia in 1865. Using her children as subjects (primarily her three eldest daughters), she explored the medium in new ways, writes Val Williams in The Other Observers. "Rather than seeking to convey solidity and unity, she made significant experiments with posing and with surface, creating a picture of a secret world of echoing interiors, mysterious draped windows and dramatic figures." Williams further points out that Hawarden's use of mirrors and fabric backgrounds strongly influenced such later photographers as Barbara Ker-Seymour and Helen Muspratt . Hawarden was among the first amateur women photographers to be recognized by the Photographic Society of London, where she won awards for her work and was elected for membership in 1863.

After her death, Hawarden fell into obscurity until 1939, when her family gave 775 of her collected prints to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Her work became part of the exhibition From Today Painting is Dead, mounted by the museum in 1972. Subsequently, in 1991, a solo exhibition of Hawarden's photographs was held at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, California.


Rosenblum, Naomi. A History of Women Photographers. NY: Abbeville Press, 1994.

Williams, Val. The Other Observers. London: Virago Press, 1991.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

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Hawarden, Clementina (1822–1865)

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