Photographers [Oo] Alexandra ‘Xie’ Kitchin in front of the lens | Lewis Carroll’s favourite model (1870-77)

Lewis Carroll, Alexandra Kitchin, 1873
Alexandra ‘Xie’ Rhoda Kitchin (1864-1925) was a notable ‘child-friend’ and favourite photographic subject of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) L. Carroll once posed the question: “How do you achieve excellence in photography?” with the answer “Put Xie in front of the lens.”
Alexandra2BRhoda 1
Lewis Carroll, Alexandra Kitchin, 1876                                        Lewis Caroll, Alexandra Kitchin, 1873
Lewis Caroll, Alexandra Kitchin, 1873                                               Lewis Carroll, Alexandra Kitchin, 1877

In a letter to her on June 16, 1880, he writes, “Here is a riddle—’What is the best way to secure excellence in a photograph?’

Answer: ‘First you take a “lence,” and then put “ecce” before it.'” He is punning on “ecce,” the Latin word for “behold.”

Alexandra2BKitchin 1
Lewis Carroll, Alexandra Kitchin, 1876
Alexandra2BKitchin 2
Lewis Carroll, Alexandra Rhoda Kitchin as she sits on a wicker deckchair and holds a parasol over her shoulder, mid 1870s
Lewis Carroll photographed her around fifty times, from age four until just before her sixteenth birthday. Xie had three younger brothers: George Herbert, Hugh Bridges, and Brook Taylor, and a younger sister, Dorothy Maud Mary. All were featured in Dodgson’s photographs.
Lewis Caroll, Alexandra Kitchin, 1870

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *