‘Who is afraid of women photographers?’ Exhibition honors a century of female image-makers.


Margaret Bourke-White (1904-1971), Self-portrait with camera, © Digital Image Museum Associates/LACMA/Art Resource NY/Scala, Florence

The first recorded successful woman photographer was Julia Margaret Cameron whose daughter was gifted her with a camera and that was her ritual of initiation with the photographic field in 1863. However, despite her relative success in photography, Cameron would not received the recognition she deserved to art historians until almost three quarters of a century after her death in 1879.

Cameron was not surely the only case of women photographers not to be recognised unlike their men colleagues and a new exhibition titled Who is afraid of Women Photographers? 1839-1945, comes to shed light on this part of the history of photography.

The exhibition will be presented in parts, first at Musée de l’Orangerie and second at Musée d’Orsay in Paris and reveals all these women who are lack of honor for their contribution in the photography field. Part One of the exhibition runs from the mid-1800s through the first two decades of the 20th century, highlighting the ways in which Victorian and pre war women used the camera to narrate stories most often left untold, stories of domesticity, child rearing, and ultimately, the very start of the First Wave and the fight for women’s rights.

Part Two runs from the close of the First World War, emphasizing to The New Woman, a career-oriented and well educated woman who makes her first steps towards her emancipation.

In 1865, when Cameron first applied to the Photographic Society of Scotland, she was met with a particularly scathing review from The Photographic Journal, where the critic ended his assessment with the qualifier, “We are sorry to have to speak thus severely on the works of a lady, but we feel compelled to do so in the interest of the art.” So, it's time. Who is afraid of Women Photographers? comes to restore their value and revoke decades’ of dismissal, honoring the women who influenced and contributed in the art of photography.

Who is afraid of Women Photographers? 1839-1945 runs until January 24th at Musée d’Orsay and Musée de l’Orangerie.


Alice Austen (1866-1952), Trude and I masked, short skirts © Courtesy of Historic Richmond Town, Staten Island, New York


Lady Frances Jocelyn (1820-1880), Intérieur, 1865 © Courtesy of Washington National Gallery of Art


Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879), Vivien and Merlin © Musée d’Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt


Christina Broom (1862-1939), Jeunes suffragettes faisant la promotion de l’exposition de la Women’s Exhibition de Knightsbridge, Londres, May 1909 © Christina Broom/Museum of London


Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879), Mrs Herbert Duckworth, 12 April 1867 © Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France


Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864-1952), Self-Portrait in the studio, c. 1896 © Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division [LC-USZ62-64301]


Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864-1952), Mills Thompson travesti, c. 1895 © Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division [LC-USZ62-64301]


Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864-1952), Marins dansant la valse à bord de l’USS Olympia, 1899 © Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division [LC-USZ62-77906]


Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864-1952), Autoportrait en travestie vélocipédiste, 1890-1900, 1899 © Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division [LC-USZ62-77906]


Gertrude Käsebier (1852-1934), The Red Man, 1900 © Digital image, The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Scala, Florence


Gertrude Käsebier (1852-1934), Gertrude Käsebier O’Malley jouant au billard avec William M. Turner, c. 1909 © Photo courtesy of the J.Paul Gatty Museum


Helen Messenger Murdoch (1862-1956), Enfants de Bishareen, Assouan, Egypte, 1914 © Royal Photographic Society / National Media Museum Science & Society Picture library


Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864-1952), Stairway of the Treasurer’s Residence: Students at Work (The Hampton Institute), 1899-1900 © 2015. Digital image, The Museum of Modern Art, New York / Scala, Florence


Mary Dillwyn (1816-1906), The picnic Party (Oystermouth Castle), Private Collection


Jessie Tarbox Beals (1870-1942), Le Président des Etats-Unis Theodore Roosevelt, Edith Roosevelt et David Rowland à l’Exposition universelles de Saint-Louis, Missouri, 1904 Digital image © National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Joanna Sturm


S. Hoare, Indigène des marquises, 1880-1885 Digital Image 2015 © Musée du quai Branly/Photo Scala, Florence


Ruth Bernhard (1905-2006), Embryo, 1934 © Photo courtesy of the Keith de Lellis Gallery, New York


Tina Modotti (1896-1942), Woman with Flag, 1928 © 2014. Digital image, The museum of Modern Art, New York/Scala, Florence


Elfriede Stegemeyer (1908-1988), Self Portrait, 1933, © Digital Image Museum Associates/LACMA/Art Resource NY/Scala, Florence


Ruth Bernhard (1905-2006), Doll, 1938 © Digital Image Museum Associates/LACMA/Art Resource NY/Scala, Florence


Ella Maillart (1903-1997), Descente du col de Djengart à la frontière de la Chine. Kirghisie © Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne /Fonds Ella Maillart


Dorothea Lange (1895-1965), Human Erosion in California (Migrant mother), © Münchner Stadtmuseum, Sammlung Fotografie © Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum, Oakland, USA


Barbara Morgan (1900-1992), We are three women – We are three million women, 1938 © Münchner Stadtmuseum, Sammlung Fotografie


Regina Relang (1895-1989), Beim Rennen in Longchamp, 1936 © Münchner Stadtmuseum, Sammlung Fotografie, Archiv Relang


Helen Levitt (1918-2009), New York, c. 1940 © Estate of Helen Levitt © Photo courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington


Consuelo Kanaga, Annie Mae Merriweather, 1936 © Collection International Center of Photography

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