Come into the Garden, Maud or is it Mary? Mary Seton Fraser Tytler Watts (1849–1938)
Come into the Garden, Maud
Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron (1809–92)
The Rose bud garden of girls by Julia Margaret Cameron, June 1868,
Featuring: Eleanor Fraser-Tytler, Christina Fraser-Tytler, Mary Fraser-Tytler, Ethel Fraser-Tytler. Albumen print
This photo features the four Fraser-Tytler sisters, Nelly, Christina, Mary and Ethel during their visit to Tennyson’s home, Farringford, on the Isle of Wight. It was June 1868 when this photo was taken which relates to Tenyson’s epic poem, ‘Maud’ (1855). ‘Queen rose of the rosebud garden of girls.’ It is a poem that he considered to be one of his best achievements.
Even though this photograph is not considered an accurate illustration of the poem, it is one of my favorites. I’ve seen it hundreds of times never knowing one of the girls was Mary Seton Watts! I love making those connections between painting and subject matter, photograph and sitter. Here Cameron’s maidens are set against a lush floral background which is more an attempt to capture the feelings represented within Pre-Raphaelite paintings and their subject matter; most notably, Rossetti and Burne-Jones.
The Pall Mall Gazette in January 1868 said of it, ‘some of the groups or tableaux vivants lose, from the very reason of their artificialness, that noble and natural harmony of expression which is the charm of Mrs. Cameron’s productions.’
The woman seated second from the right was Mary Fraser-Tytler, who studied art with G.F. Watts for several years before becoming his second wife in 1886. She said of him, ‘He is the painter of painters for me.’
Mr. and Mrs. G.F. Watts. Mary reading to her husband in their home Limnerlease, Compton.