Musée d'Orsay: Henry Peach Robinson She never told her Love

Henry Peach Robinson
She never told her Love

"She never Told her Love"
Henry Peach Robinson (1830-1901)
"She never Told her Love"
Albumen print from a wet collodion glass negative
H. 18; W. 24.1 cm
© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt

She never told her Love

Miss Cindall, who became one of Robinson's favourite models for his photographic tableaux, here lends her graceful traits to the figure of a young woman on her death bed, apparently consumed by her untold love, as explained by the line below the print, taken from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, or What You Will: “She never told her Love.”

This work is one of the preliminary studies for the masterly composition Fading Away, which Robinson made using the “combination printing” technique he had learnt with Rejlander. Five different negatives are thus put together to form a scene in which this virginal beauty passes away surrounded
by her loved ones. What kills her is not unrequited love but tuberculosis, a contagious disease which was also incurable at the time.

The two photographs were presented jointly at the photography exhibition at the Crystal Place in 1858, winning Robinson acclaim and glory for the technical mastery and artistic ambition that went into them.

Linked in this way, the works created a narrative (one providing the key to the other), showing the Victorian public that the affliction evoked in the final print was both moral and physical. Death restores lost innocence.

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