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This snapshot is known as the Winter Garden photograph. Barthes discusses it at length in Camera Lucida, but never reproduces it. It is one of the most famous unseen photographs in the world.
Camera Lucida (La Chambre claire) written by French literary theorist Roland Barthes, is arguably one of the most influential books about photography. Published in 1980, shortly before his death, the book is also a tribute to Barthes’ late mother, Henriette. In it, Barthes discusses a treasured snapshot taken in 1898, known as the Winter Garden photograph. It is an image of Henriette, aged five, not shown Camera Lucida. Barthes describes it as follows:
“With the Photograph, we enter into flat Death. The horror is this: nothing to say about the death of one whom I love most, nothing to say about her photograph, which I contemplate without ever being able to get to the heart of it, to transform it. The only “thought” I can have is that at the end of this first death, my own death is inscribed; between the two, nothing more than waiting…”.
Keeper of the Hearth: Picturing Roland Barthes’ Unseen Photograph features hundreds of images and texts, supported by three essays. Essayists include Douglas Nickel, Andrea V. Rosenthal Professor of History of Art and Architecture, Brown University; Lucy Gallun, Associate Curator, Department of Photography, the Museum of Modern Art; and Phillip Prodger, Senior Research Scholar, Yale Center for British Art. Foreword by Charlotte Cotton, independent curator and writer.
“What strikes me most about the collective response that is contained within Keeper of the Hearth is the enduring capacity of Barthes’ writing to be a creative springboard for many”. Charlotte Cotton
Odette England is an Australia/British artist, writer, and curator. Her work has shown in more than 90 solo, two-person and group exhibitions in the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia, and Asia. Keeper of the Hearth is England’s first edited volume. She lives and works in Rhode Island and New York.