Considering Julia’s Roman Catholic upbringing, and Charles Hay’s Unitarian leanings,and her own experience as a mother, it is not surprising that Julia made so many references to the madonna and child in her work. This fairly random collection from a Google search illustrates just how this Christian mother and child iconography features in her photographs.
Julia Margaret Cameron: Madonna and Children 1864 (from the Watts Album). I think this is modelled by Mary Hillier (1847-1936), with Elizabeth Keown and Alice Jessie Keown. Mary Hillier was employed by Julia, and the Keown sisters were the daughters of the Master Gunner Thomas Keown, who was stationed at Fort Redoubt, across the 100 acre field in front of Dimbola.
The iconography of the madonna and child characterises Christianity, from the earliest times, and latterly has become closely associated with Roman Catholicism. Julia’s upbringing, with a French grandparents and mother, was probably dominated by the church, and she would have thoroughly familiar with the imagery of madonna and child. Here I have counter-poised Sassoferratto (Giovan Batista Salvi) – the image of the Mother of God, traditionally highlighted with a halo