Red and violet: the impact of Brewster stereoscopy

A modern viewer would assume that these portraits all have their provenance in a family album, and that a small childish hand had been at work with a paintbox. And perhaps that was the case, but there may yet be another explanation for why the portraits below, all bearing Thomas Nevin’s studio stamp, should exhibit such crude hand colouring when the hand-tinting of his other portraits – of family members, of himself, and even of a few convict cartes – is remarkably fine and delicate. The four examples here were all sold commercially, and were painted over after their purchase by their owners who had enough knowledge of stereoscopy to experiment, and may have possessed a stereo viewer. Single cartes were also viewed using a stereoscope, and the addition of colour and lines enhanced the depth of field. They were not painted by Nevin during printing, and they are not stereographs. None of Nevin’s stereographs were coloured in this manner. … More Red and violet: the impact of Brewster stereoscopy

Ferns, convicts, and Charles Darwin

In some of the dampest ravines, tree- ferns flourished in an extraordinary manner; I saw one which must have been at least twenty feet high to the base of the fronds, and was in girth exactly six feet. The fronds forming the most elegant parasols, produced a gloomy shade, like that of the first hour of the night.

The summit of the mountain is broad and flat, and is composed of huge angular masses of naked greenstone. Its elevation is 3100 feet above the level of the sea. The day was splendidly clear, and we enjoyed a most extensive view; to the north, the country appeared a mass of wooded mountains, of about the same height with that on which we were standing, and with an equally tame outline: to the south the broken land and water, forming many intricate bays, was mapped with clearness before us. After staying some hours on the summit, we found a better way to descend, but did not reach the Beagle till eight o’clock, after a severe day’s work. (Feb. 6, 1836: pp 486-7) … More Ferns, convicts, and Charles Darwin

From glass negative to print: prisoner Bewley TUCK

At least forty more unmounted photographs of prisoners taken by T. J. Nevin in the 1870s which were collated by John Watt Beattie in three panels ca. 1915 are held in the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, together with seventy or so cdvs in oval mounts, the remainder of part of more than three hundred in oval mounts which were originally bequeathed  from the estate of convictaria collector and government photographer John Watt Beattie to the QVMAG in the 1930s. When several dozen mounted and unmounted cdvs were removed from Beattie’s original collection at the QVMAG and taken down to the Port Arthur prison heritage site for an exhibition as part of the Port Arthur Conservation Project in 1983, they were not returned to the QVMAG. They were deposited instead at the TMAG . Given the scratches, crossed out inscriptions and general damage, the glass negative from which this print was made would have been used extensively to reprint the prisoner’s photograph for prison records as each offense and charge was recorded. The print, unmounted such as this one, would have been pasted to his rap sheet, and more would have been reprinted from the original glass plate several times over the prisoner’s long criminal career. Examples of both types of prisoner mugshots – mounted and unmounted – attached to prisoners’ rap sheets are held at the Archives Office of Tasmania in prison photo books. … More From glass negative to print: prisoner Bewley TUCK

Younger brother Constable John (Jack) NEVIN (1851-1891)

Jack Nevin looks very relaxed and very savvy about the process of being photographed. His gaze is direct and very keen, his clothes suitable for everyday work in a foul place such as a prison. His salaried positions were primarily in administration, with a career path and ranking similar to the Keeper’s. Older brother Thomas Nevin had been a Keeper too of a public institution, at the Hobart Town Hall between 1876-1880; a special constable during the Chiniquy Riots of 1879; Office Keeper for the Hobart City Corporation; and assistant bailiff in the courts during the 1880s. Constable John Nevin’s presence at the Hobart Gaol points to a close family involvement by both Nevin brothers with prisoner documentation – visual and written. … More Younger brother Constable John (Jack) NEVIN (1851-1891)

Oral history: Nevin family at Kangaroo Valley

Mary Anne Nevin was the 5 year-old member of the Nevin family placed on the Fairlie sick list on the voyage out to Hobart, arriving July 1852.On board was the entire family of young Thomas Nevin, then aged 10 yrs. His father, John Nevin, pensioner guard (b. Ireland 1808) worked the family’s passage. He was accompanied by Mary Nevin, his wife (b.England 1810) and four children:

Thomas James Nevin: (1842-1923) died at age 80
Mary Ann Nevin: (1844-1878) died at age 34
Rebecca Jane Nevin (1847-1865) died at age 18
William John Nevin (1852-1891) died at age 39 … More Oral history: Nevin family at Kangaroo Valley

Portraits of youngest son Albert with horse 1914-17

Albert most likely chose the black and white photograph as the best representation of himself he could give his fiancee Emily Maud Davis in 1914, and having succeeded in winning her hand, presented the painted version to Emily on their wedding day, March 5th 1917 in Launceston. By August 13, 1917, they were back in Hobart and Albert was racing again, at Moonah in the Derwent Handicap … … More Portraits of youngest son Albert with horse 1914-17

Thomas Nevin’s  stereography

The TMAG holds fifty or more prisoner or convict photographs taken by Thomas Nevin for the Municipal Police Office and Hobart Gaol, and another sixty or so of his cartes-de-visite and stereographs, called ‘stereoscopes’ in the former catalogue entries. His photographs of convicts held at the TMAG were wrongly attributed to A.H. Boyd, a result of the confusion generated by researcher Chris Long, which appeared in the TMAG’s publication, Tasmanian Photographers 1840-1940: A Directory (1995:36). … More Thomas Nevin’s  stereography