Professional photographers Samuel Clifford and Thomas J. Nevin shared a long friendship and partnership from the early 1860s until Clifford’s death in 1890. They produced landscapes in stereographic format for the local and intercolonial tourist trade, both individually and collaboratively sharing their stock of negatives and prints from as early as 1865 while Nevin was still at his New Town studio. Several cartes-de-visite with the inscription on verso “Clifford & Nevin Hobart Town” which were reprinted by Clifford from Nevin’s stock after 1876, are held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery. A few are held in private collections … More Thomas Nevin & Samuel Clifford’s partnership and identical views 1860s-70s
A new National Portrait Gallery of Australia is under construction in Canberra. No doubt the new spaces will display photographic portraits of convicts transported to Australia, as part of the country’s rich history of migration. How will the National Portrait Gallery handle issues of attribution? Will the contradictions of the exhibition Mirror with a Memory … More Mirror with a Memory Exhibition, National Portrait Gallery 2000
The pose was not the result of the social status, class and power differentials between photographer and convict, as Helen Ennis suggests (Exposures, Photography and Australia , 2007, pages 21-22), a suggestion which ignores this pattern in Nevin’s technique; which assumes that Nevin was not familiar, nor even friendly, with these convicts, some of whom had travelled as Parkhurst boys with Thomas Nevin, aged 10, and his family to Tasmania in 1852 on board the Fairlie, eg. Michael Murphy; and which presupposes that at the point of capture the convict was cowering under the gaze of a punitive individual such as the Commandant of the Port Arthur prison, A.H. Boyd, a furphy [erroneous story] created by Boyd’s descendants and Chris Long which has resulted in a misattribution, and has misled Ennis into publishing this comment which is coloured by her misconception … More Prisoner poses: women, children and ticket-of-leave men
Thomas James Nevin jnr was born in 1874 at the residence attached to his father’s photographic studio at 140 Elizabeth St, Hobart Town. He was the second child of Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin and the first son – his elder sister May (Mary Florence) was born in 1872).
Known as “Sonny” to family descendants, he travelled to California to reside there for a time with his wife Gertrude Tennyson Bates and his wife’s family who migrated there in the early 1900s. Both returned to Hobart and both died there, Thomas James in 1948, and Gertrude Bates in 1955. … More Thomas James ‘Sonny’ Nevin (1874 – 1948)
William John Nevin ( 1878-1927), photographed by his father in 1897, was the fourth child and third surviving son born to photographer Thomas James Nevin and Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day. He was born on the 14th March 1878 at the Hobart Town Hall where his father Thomas J. Nevin was employed as Office and Hall keeper for the Hobart City Corporation and photographer for the Municipal Police Office, having leased his photographic studio in 1876 at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart, while maintaining a photographic practice and studio at New Town, near Hobart, Tasmania with his younger brother Constable John Nevin. This son was thus named after his uncle, i.e. Thomas J. Nevin’s younger brother, William John Nevin (1852-1891), known as Jack to the family, who worked on salary at the Hobart Gaol until his death from typhoid fever in 1891, (pictured here in plain clothes): … More Haulage at Newdegate St. North Hobart
Thomas Nevin would have carried at least two copies on his person of the prisoner’s photograph, one loose and one pasted to the prisoner’s record sheet, in the event of attempted escape in transit. Other copies remained at the Office of Inspector of Police, Town Hall, Hobart. Dr Coverdale, the Surgeon-Commandant at Port Arthur who had replaced A.H. Boyd by January 1874 deemed this procedure sufficient for security as a dozen or so prisoners were evacuated every week back to Hobart by schooner as soon as he assumed office. Clearly, Dr Coverdale’s predecessor A. H. Boyd had nothing to do with this photograph of Job Smith, nor indeed with any other of these 1870s prisoner mugshots for the simple and very obvious facts that (a) Boyd was not a photographer and no photographs in any genre supposedly taken by him have been found extant nor ever will be found unless they have been faked, as for example, the image of the Port Arthur prison printed by the Anson Bros in 1889 (Kerr, Stilwell 1992); and (b) the commission awarded to Thomas Nevin to photograph prisoners was given in 1872 by the Attorney-General W. R. Giblin after the visit by senior prison official and politicians from Victoria to the Port Arthur prison. Just one image, reprinted many times, of Job Smith aka William Campbell is extant. Thomas Nevin photographed him once and once only, although at least three duplicates and copies are currently extant in State and National collections. … More Two histories, two inscriptions: Tasmanian prisoners 1874
The verso of this portrait of a standing child bears Alfred Bock’s studio stamp for the City Photographic Establishment which is identical in design to one of the stamps adopted by Thomas Nevin while working with Bock in the early 1860s. Nevin continued to use this design when he acquired Bock’s studio and stock, The City Photographic Establishment, in 1865 on Bock’s departure from Tasmania. … More With Alfred Bock mid 1860s
“Sometimes the entries are not clear. His important argument that Adolarious Boyd, the superintendent at Port Arthur, was the photographer of the well-known portraits of Port Arthur convicts rather than Thomas Nevin is not found in the Boyd entry, but rather under “convict photographs”. No “see also” reference is provided to that entry – rather one is given to Charles Woolley for whom one can see no obvious link. It would be very easy, therefore, to miss the substance of his argument. To a certain extent the book has the look of something produced by desktop publishing, and it seems to have the usual infelicities and typo’s of that genre. Editor Gillian Winter’s description of its publication history suggests that it was a difficult birth, and indeed she describes it as a “draft publication”, which is not altogether reassuring.” … More Anne-Marie Willis & Richard Neville on the Boyd misattribution
PERSONAL: – Mr Alfred Bock, writing from Auburn, Victoria, intimates that he is not dead, neither is he “the late Mr. Bock”, as stated in a note under a picture of the late Mr Boyd in a recent copy of “The Tasmanian Mail.” He adds:- “I suppose by the ‘late Mr. Bock’ it means to refer to my father, but he never took a photograph in his life. The picture was actually taken by me on the occasion of my visiting Port Arthur at the request on the officers of the station for the purpose of painting a portrait of Mr Boyd for presentation to that gentleman; I think about 1863 or 1864; I am not quite sure as to the year. I should be glad if you could make the correction, especially as some of my friends have been inquiring about my decease.
… More Alfred Bock & Thomas Nevin at Port Arthur 1860s
An early pioneer of dark tourism, William Radcliffe published a guide to the ruins of the Port Arthur prison site in the 1930s with photographs by John Watt Beattie taken in the early 1900s. The shame of convict heritage, a keenly felt stigma of the times, required concealment of real names. On page 25, he advised:
In consideration of relatives who may be living, the actual names have been omitted. If any doubt of the facts is occasioned in any way, the records may be seen on application at my museum at Port Arthur. … More The Old Curiosity Shop, Port Arthur, Tasman Peninsula
Published in London, The Photographic News contained a wealth of news and technical information about processes and equipmen. The 1863 issues covered a year in the development of dry-plate photography, solar photography, photolithography, glass house construction and a thousand other items of interest in advanced photophysics and photochemistry. Alfred Bock and Thomas J. Nevin had reconstructed Bock’s glass house at their studio, The City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth-street, Hobart Town, by 1865, and produced some extraordinary solar photographs. Samuel Clifford, also a partner of Thomas J. Nevin, applied information from such a source to produce his much praised dry plate photographs using Russell’s Tannin Process, which were exhibited at the Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition in 1866. The pseudonymous “Sol” remarked of Clifford’s expertise: – “Surely no wet photography ever excelled these delightful representations of nature” … More Dry plate photography 1860s
CHARLES A. WOOLLEY megalethosscope ALFRED BOCK advertisements THOMAS J. NEVIN studio furniture Charles A. Woolley placed an advertisement in the Tasmanian Mercury, February 11th, 1871 for his wonderful “magalethoscope” [sic]. Charles Woolley’s ad in the Mercury February 11, 1871 This is a misprint, perhaps by the newspaper. The megalethoscope was an apparatus for viewing photographs … More The table with the griffin-shaped legs
“There are three rooms literally crammed with exhibits … The question which pressed itself on my mind time and again was, how comes it that these old-time relics which formerly were Government property, are now in private hands? Did the Government sell them or give them away? The same query applies to the small collection in a curiosity shop at Brown’s River. Whatever the answer may be, I hold the opinion that the Government would be amply justified in taking prompt steps to repossess them, even though some duplicates may be in the State Museum. Today the collection is valuable and extremely interesting. A century hence it will be priceless. It would surely be unpardonable to allow it to pass into the hands of some wealthy globe-trotter which is the fate awaiting it, unless action be taken to secure it to the State.” … More John Watt Beattie’s Museum ca 1916
The Bulletin journalist had no doubt about the name of the photographer, although s/he assumed T. J. Nevin was an amateur, not a professional, working with a “flashlight and pan” at Port Arthur. S/he assumed too that Nevin recorded the convict’s name as he was being photographed – “they gave Nevin the wrong names when asked ” – and that “those convicts whose photographs remain were all serving long terms”. The unstated inference is that Nevin then wrote the convict’s name on the verso of the prisoner’s cdv, but that is very unlikely in the first instance, since the prisoner’s original identification mugshot was pasted to his criminal record (gaol rap sheet). The numbering on all of these extant cdvs of Tasmanian prisoners photographed in the 1870s was the work of 20th century archivists, whether by John Watt Beattie in the early 1900s at his “Port Arthur Museum” in Hobart, or by curators of exhibitions at the QVMAG in the years 1930s, 1970s, and 1980s … More Prisoner Charles BROWN aka Wm FORSTER: The Bulletin, May 16, 1978
Neither Morris nor Evans looks cowered, intimidated, or fearful, and why should they on the occasion of their discharge from prison? They look at ease in the presence of the photographer. Both appear healthy, self-possessed, and clean. Both men had shaved, buttoned their jackets, and folded their neckerchiefs neatly into the top of the jacket like a gentleman’s cravat. Although these men appear to be wearing their own standard issue prison uniforms, they may have been supplied with passably clean clothing for the occasion. They needed to be identifiable as prisoners from their clothing. Morris was photographed in spring and posed wearing the light jacket and neckerchief; Evans was photographed in summer but wore the standard issue woollen jacket and neckerchief. Released as “Free”, he was a ‘native” or local prisoner with a short-term sentence whose eyes were firmly fixed on the future and freedom. … More Well-groomed prisoners MORRIS and EVANS
The allegations of nepotism and corruption made in the Tasmanian Parliament in July 1873 centred squarely on the Opposition Leader and member for Central Hobart, W.R. Giblin who had occupied the portfolio of Attorney-General in the previous government, and his brother-in-law, the Commandant of Port Arthur, Adolarious Humphrey Boyd. … More Nepotism, corruption and Port Arthur 1873
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