Winter: My Secret
By Christina Rossetti
I tell my secret? No indeed, not I:
Perhaps some day, who knows?
But not today; it froze, and blows and snows,
And you’re too curious: fie!
You want to hear it? well:
Only, my secret’s mine, and I won’t tell.
Clementina Hawarden's Victorian era photographs have been described as, 'erotic' and 'sensuous' because she posed her daughters in what was thought to be 'intimate' poses. She used a closet as her darkroom in her South Kensington home in London, England. She transformed the first floor of her home into a studio where,
'She disappears underneath the photographer’s black cloth, which is one with her own dark dress, as if a layer of her voluminous skirt has been pulled up and over her head. Her delicate hands, white and stained with photographic chemicals, protrude as they adjust the knobs that control the accordionlike bellows of her wooden camera. The mother tilts and focuses the image of her daughters that appears upside down on the screen at the back of her large camera box, a cabinet of sorts. The process takes several long minutes.'
While researching the life of this fascinating Victorian era woman and photographer, much was written and made about the running themes noticeable in Lady Hawarden's photographs, such phrases as: 'issues of gender, motherhood and sexuality related to the attachment of loss, illusion and even fetish!' Hawarden's photographs have been analyzed from a psychoanalytic, feminist, and cultural-historical perspective. Let's see what you think. Perhaps we can judge for ourselves or simply enjoy in the beauty of the subject matter.