Cameron's Val Prinsep album breaks photographer's auction record

Julia Margaret Cameron's Val Prinsep album, a previously unknown collection of photographs, has sold for £242,500 ($398,961) at Sotheby's London - a new auction record for the photographer.

The lot headlined the English Literature, History, Children's Books & Illustrations sale, which took place on December 10. The previous record was set at $249,069 at Sotheby's in 2001 - equating to an increase of 60.1%.

Julia Margaret Cameron
Cameron's portrait of Julia Prinsep Jackson, mother of the author Virginia Woolf

The present lot comprises 32 large scale photographs of Victorian-era luminaries, including Virginia Woolf's mother, and was commissioned for Cameron's godson, the artist Valentine Cameron Prinsep.

We have this signed copy of Virginia Woolf's Orlando: A Biography for sale.

Cameron (1815-1879) has proven enormously influential on subsequent generations of photographers, particularly her groundbreaking close-up portraiture.

She photographed many of the most iconic figures of the day, including Alfred Lord Tennyson and Charles Darwin, and was also a key figure in the pre-Raphaelite movement.

The Great Tree Treat, by the French writer and illustrator Jean de Brunhoff, made £80,500 ($132,439).

Babar Elephant Tree Treat
The illustration was published in 1937

The festive work features his iconic character Babar the Elephant and was published in the Daily Sketch, a British tabloid newspaper, in 1937.

The character appeared in print in France in 1931, and was enormously successful from the outset. There has been much debate over the way colonialism is presented in the books, with some arguing that the stories are an exercise in apologism for French rule in Africa.

Another drawing, Babar Puts On His Thinking Crown, sold for £74,500 ($122,568) at the sale.

Sign up to our free newsletter for the latest on rare books and manuscripts and other collectibles.

Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£55,000
In stock