Cameron’s photographs are very realistic portrayals of different characters in Tennyson’s Idylls of the King. The photographs tend to convey emotions, feelings, and the overall spirit of the events. I chose “The Parting of Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere” for analysis. It is a photograph of a seated bearded Sir Lancelot in hauberk in profile, leaning his chin upon the head of seated Queen Guinevere. He is gently hugging the queen with one hand while clasping her hand in another. This photograph was taken in 1875, and it is believed that this shot alone required forty-two attempts.
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This illustration accurately depicts the aesthetic of the characters, as represented in the poem. For instance, Sir Lancelot is shown as a young, well-built man, loyal, trustworthy, and loving; while Queen Guinevere is beautiful, noble, and virtuous. Here particularly, she looks weak and dependent on sir Lancelot. In this image, both characters look very calm and pacified, as if they are exhausted. The visual illustration contradicts expectations created when reading the poem, which is rather more emotional and exciting.
They cherished last moments together before parting, described as “hands in hands, and eye to eye, tammering and staring; A madness of farewells.” On the other hand, the expression in their eyes reflects the inevitability and reconciliation with their fate. Furthermore, the image successfully manifests the theme of their passionate, rebellious love that brought both of them to death, as described in Tennyson’s poem.
This image is strong compositionally and gives a lot of space for creativity, as it lets the viewer create various interpretations. It shows a peaceful moment of poor lovers and their belongingness to each other and yet manages to demonstrate strong individual personalities.