Keeper of the Hearth

This book marks the 40th anniversary of Roland Barthes’ renowned work Camera Lucida (La Chambre claire) in 2020. Artist Odette England invited more than 200 photography-based artists, writers, critics, curators, and historians from around the world to contribute an image or text that reflects on Barthes’ unpublished snapshot of his mother at age five.

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Author: Odette England


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.


Features and Reviews
The Guardian newspaper (April 15th, 2020)
The British Journal of Photography (Feb 2020)
The Guardian
Financial Times: Summer Photography Books 2020
GUP magazine, #64
Humble Arts Foundation 
Fraction magazine
Conscientious Photography magazine
LFI blog – Book of the Month (April 2020)
What Will You Remember?
De Standaard newspaper (April 17, 2020) (in Dutch)
Photolucida blog 
F-Stop magazine
Nearest Truth (Episode 40) with Brad Feuerhelm
The Royal Photographic Society Journal (May, 2020)
De Groene Amsterdammer  (in Dutch)
Sybylla J Smith Photobook Club (April 2nd, 2020)
Bird in Flight (in Russian)
El País (in Spanish)
Photo-Eye blog
L’Oeil de la Photographie 
Collector Daily

History of Photography
LensCulture – Photobooks of 2020: Jim Casper
In The Luupe – Women*-Made Photobooks of 2020
EIKON #112 (in German) 
Lenscratch – Favorite (photo)books of 2020


Online events
Virtual Opening of the exhibition at the Houston Center for Photography (September 10th, 2020)
Words & Pictures: Surfaces for Feelings, a panel discussion in conjunction with the exhibition at HCP (November 15th, 2020)
Pictures We Keep, Secrets We Share, artists’ talk hosted by Northeastern University (October 16th, 2020)


Design: Cara Buzzell
ISBN 9789053309377
24 x 28.5 cm
320 pages with approx. 200 photos

Additional information

Weight 1.7 kg
Dimensions 29 × 24.5 × 0.30 cm


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