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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Lady Clementina Hawarden

Born: Elphinstone Fleeming 
Other: Clementina Hawarden 
Other: Clementine Hawarden 
Other: Lady Clementine Hawarden 
Other: Viscountess Clementina Hawarden 
Dates:  1822, 1 June - 1865, 19 January
Born:  Great Britain, Scotland, Cumbernauld, nr Glasgow
Active:  UK
Early Scottish photographer who took portraits of her family, friends and acquaintances.

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for Lady Clementina Hawarden
Courtesy of the Victoria & Albert Museum (London, UK)

Lady Hawarden was born Clementina Elphinstone Fleeming on 1 June 1822. One of five children, she grew up on the family estate, Cumbernauld, near Glasgow. Her father, Admiral Charles Elphinstone Fleeming, was well known for his part in the Venezuelan and Colombian wars of liberation (about 1811-25). Little is known about her mother, Catalina Paulina Alessandro from Cadiz, an 'exotic beauty' 26 years younger than her husband.
Much of Hawarden's life remains a mystery to us. It is doubtful that she kept a diary as nothing has been discovered, and there are few surviving letters to give us any insight into her life or character. We know that she married Cornwallis Maude, 4th Viscount Hawarden, in 1845 and lived in London until 1857, when she moved with her husband to the family estate in Dundrum, Co. Tipperary, Ireland. Most of what we do know about Hawarden is deduced from her photographs.
It is likely that Hawarden began to experiment with photography in 1857, taking stereoscopic landscape photographs around the Dundrum estate. In 1859 the family moved back to London. Hawarden then began to photograph her daughters, firstly making stereoscopic photographs, before moving to large-format, stand-alone portraits.
Hawarden and her husband had ten children, two boys and eight girls, out of whom eight survived to adulthood. At the same time as being absorbed in motherhood, she was a prolific photographer. She exhibited her work with the Photographic Society of London in 1863 and 1864, under the titles 'Studies from Life' and 'Photographic Studies', and was awarded the Society's silver medal in both years.
Tragically, Hawarden was never to collect her medals. She died at 5 Princes Gardens, South Kensington, on 19 January 1865, after suffering from pneumonia for one week, aged 42. It has been suggested that her immune system was weakened by constant contact with the photographic chemicals.
The photographer O. G. Rejlander wrote an obituary, 'In Memoriam' published in the British Journal of Photography (27 January 1865) stating that Hawarden 'worked honestly, in a good, comprehensible style …She also was in her manner and conversation - fair, straightforward, nay manly, with a feminine grace. She is a loss to photography, for she would have progressed. She is a loss to many, many friends. She is an enormous loss to a loving family.' 
This biography is courtesy and copyright of the Victoria & Albert Museum and is included here with permission. 
Date last updated: 11 Nov 2011. 
We welcome institutions and scholars willing to test the sharing of biographies for the benefit of the photo-history community. The biography above is a part of this trial.
If you find any errors please email us details so they can be corrected as soon as possible.

Further research

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If you have a portrait of this photographer or know of the whereabouts of one we would be most grateful.
Family history 
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Visual indexes

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Internet biographies

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Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website
Grove Art Online ( has a biography of this artist. 
[NOTE: This is a subscription service and you will need to pay an annual fee to access the content.]
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Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Beaton, Cecil & Buckland, Gail 1975 The Magic Eye: The Genius of Photography from 1839 to the Present Day (Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown & Company) p.54 [Useful short biographies with personal asides and one or more example images.] 
• Lenman, Robin (ed.) 2005 The Oxford Companion to the Photograph (Oxford: Oxford University Press)  [Includes a short biography on Lady Clementina Hawarden.] 

Useful printed stuff

If there is an analysis of a single photograph or a useful self portrait I will highlight it here.

• Newhall, Beaumont 1982 The History of Photography - Fifth Edition (London: Secker & Warburg) [One or more photographs by Lady Clementina Hawarden are included in this classic history.] 
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