Lady Clementina Hawarden started to experiment with photography around 1857, by 1865 she was dead. She died aged 42 from pneumonia, possibly due to a weakening of her immune system brought on by constant contact with photographic chemicals. She left behind a truly unique legacy of images taken of her adolescent daughters at a time when photography was in its infancy and women in art was shuned by society. She married Cornwallis Maude, 4th Viscount Hawarden in 1845 and in the intervening years before her death, gave birth to ten children.
The writer Carol Mavor in, Becoming: The Photographs of Clementina, Viscountess Hawarden, suggests that the often provocative poses of Hawarden's daughters are significant. The Victorians were bothered by the idea of sexuality and adolescence, and in 1861 the Offences Against the Person Act raised the age of consent from 10 to 12. This was also the year in which Hawarden began to make this kind of photograph, though there is no evidence that she was deliberately exploring this controversial topic.
Lady Clementina Hawarden, Clementina Maude, c.1863/64
Lady Clementina Hawarden, Isabella Grace, c.1863/64
Lady Clementina Hawarden, Clementina & Florence Elizabeth Maude, c.1863/64
Lady Clementina Hawarden, Clementina Maude & Isabella Grace Maude, c.1863/64