The model in this photograph is Marie Spartali Stillman (1844-1927), the youngest daughter of Eyphrosyne and Michael Spartali, a wealthy merchant who became Greek consul to London. The Spartalis were cosmopolitan and their children, Marie, Christina and Demetrius were well-educated and moved in the Victorian art circles. Marie Spartali studied painting under Ford Madox Brown and became the most well-known female Pre-Raphaelite painter. Besides being a painter, Marie was also an artist’s model for the Pre-Raphaelites and was also photographed by Julia Margaret Cameron. In this photograph, Spartali is depicted as the fourth-century Greek philosopher Hypatia. Both Cameron and Spartali were interested in depicting strong female figures and Marie’s Hellenic heritage is also conveyed here.
Featured Image: Julia Margaret Cameron, ‘Hypatia’, albumen print from wet collodion glass negative, 1868, courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum