Police artists worked in the Supreme Court of Tasmania from as early as 1824. An album of portraits of “prisoners taken in the dock” (Dunbar, QVMAG catalogue 1991:25) by Thomas Bock, the father of photographer Thomas Nevin’s close associate Alfred Bock, was on sale at the Sydney booksellers Angus and Robertson in 1910 when collector William Dixson bought it and bequeathed it eventually to the State Library of New South Wales. Alfred Bock also worked on commission as a police artist, producing sketches of prisoners in the dock. The earliest photographs to survive of prisoners taken at the Supreme Court and adjoining Hobart Gaol which were produced by Thomas J. Nevin date from his first contract issued in February 1872. … More From Thomas Bock to Thomas Nevin: Supreme Court prisoner portraits
Who were they? They were T.J. Nevin’s sitters for police records, mostly “Supreme Court men” photographed on committal for trial at the Supreme Court adjoining the Hobart Gaol when they were isolated in silence for a month after sentencing. If sentenced for a long term at the Supreme Court Launceston, they were photographed, bathed, shaved and dressed on being received in Hobart. These procedures, past and present, were reported at length by a visitor to the Hobart Gaol and Supreme Court in The Mercury, 8th July 1882 … … More The Supreme Court mugshots taken by T. J. Nevin from 1871 onwards
Private collector and professional photographer Geoff Harrisson kindly forwarded these six scans of studio portraits by Thomas J . Nevin, each bearing verso a different inscription or stamp. … More From the C. G. Harrisson Collection: three studio stamps
In 1944, the French writer Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (1873-1954) published a short story called The Photographer’s Wife (La Dame du Photographe 1944), in which Mme Armand, the wife of the photographer – he who is referred to by their neighbour as “little old Big Eyes” – attempts suicide, some might think for an adulterous liaison, while she herself explains the reason as an unbearably trivial life. The drug she self-administers is not named, but at the moment when old Big Eyes raises the alarm, his hands are “all covered with hyposulphite” from a broken bottle in the studio. Hyposulphite was used in daguerreotype, ambrotype and collodion photography, one of several photochemicals including arsenic and cyanide with ready appeal to a self-poisoner. Elizabeth Rachel Day’s life as the wife of photographer Thomas J. Nevin in colonial Tasmania was very different from Colette’s literary portrait. However, from her marriage in 1871 until her husband’s residential appointment at the Hobart Town Hall in 1876, she lived and slept above a veritable factory of poisonous chemicals stored and used in her husband’s studio, a double-windowed building and glasshouse with the business name of The City Photographic Establishment, located at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart. … More The Photographer’s wife at the studio
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