Posted by: schne20r | December 17, 2012

Comparing photographs of Hannah Cullwick with those of Cindy Sherman

In class we discussed the interesting dynamic in the Cullwick-Munby relationship.  Although I appreciate Carol Mavor’s attempt to argue that Hannah had agency, I find her comparison of the photographs of Hannah to those of modern feminist photographers such as Antin and Sherman to be a problematic one.  Although we have Hannah’s diaries, it is difficult for us to uncover her true feelings because she wrote her diaries for Munby to read.  I agree that it is possible that Hannah enjoyed dressing up as different characters, but I do not think that Hannah was attempting to interrogate types in a mocking way as Sherman does in her images.  Perhaps this difference can be attributed to the intended audience of the photographs.  Hannah’s images were intended to be seen by only Munby and herself, and Sherman’s photographs were aimed to a much wider audience.




Figure 1. Untitled #224, 1990

Figure 2. Cindy Sherman Untitled #193, 1989

Figure 3.  Hannah Cullwick as slave

Figure 4.  Hannah Cullwick as Magdalene

Mavor, Carole.  Pleasures Taken.  Durham: Duke University Press, 1995. 



  1. […] written about Cindy Sherman on this blog in a discussion about Hannah Cullwick’s portraits (here), but her work is worth noting here—her self-portraits sometimes produce a similar effect to […]

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