Britain seeks bid to prevent 5.17 million photo album from leaving UK
Arts minister Michael Ellis stepped in with a move to prevent the extraordinary collection from being exported overseas.
Ellis has placed a temporary export bar on Images from the Life, known as the Norman Album, by Julia Margaret Cameron, in a last-ditch bid to keep it in the country.
Cameron (1815-1879) pioneered the portrait photography format and became known for her striking portraits of celebrities of the time. She was only introduced to photography after her daughter gave her a camera as a gift.
The culture department, DCMS, said the collection of photographs is at risk of being exported from the UK unless a buyer can be found to match the asking price after the album was sold to an oversea buyer for $5.17 million.
The album includes some of Cameron's finest and best-known portraits, including her niece Julia Jackson (the mother of Virginia Woolf), scientist and polymath John Herschel, poet Tennyson and famed naturalist Charles Darwin.
"Apart from the aesthetic and historical value of the individual photographs, the album itself is a labor of love, representing a very personal selection of works chosen and sequenced by the artist herself and intended as a gift for her beloved daughter whose gift of a camera introduced Cameron to photography," said a spokeswoman for DCMS.
Between 1864 and 1869, Cameron assembled a number of albums for her family, friends and close acquaintances. She embraced the album format, seeing it as an expressive medium which allowed her to present herself and her work in an artistic way.
It is not known exactly how many albums she made, but ten are known to have survived and each is different.
Ellis said: "As well as containing extraordinary depictions of some of the most famous faces of the age, this wonderful album is of outstanding aesthetic importance and significance to the study of the history of photography." ■