This collection of studio portraits taken by Thomas J. Nevin in the early 1870s of otherwise unidentified older women includes just one whose name is inscribed verso: Mrs Morrison. Who might she have been? A servant, a farmer, a post-mistress, some relation to Askin Morrison, ship owner, of Morrison Street, opposite Franklin Wharf, Hobart? Or Mrs Morrison, teacher of Kangaroo Point whose health had forced her to retire (Mercury, 6 December 1872). Perhaps she was Mrs Ellen Morrison, licensee of the Launceston Hotel, Brisbane St. on a visit south to Hobart? Whoever this sitter was, she appears to have worked hard all her life, no fuss or frills about it. … More Portraits of older women by Thomas Nevin 1870s
So many coincidences inform the existence of these photographs. This man and woman are both of East Asian appearance, and both wore clerical dress denoting religious affiliations when photographed in the 1870s. But were they known to each other? Both portraits were collected in Australia, despite one originating from India. And then there’s the question about the table. The male portrait poses many questions, since it was printed in Madras by the Maselawmoney Brothers photographers, but located amongst other cartes-de-visite taken by Thomas J. Nevin held in the private collection of a Tasmanian family (the Liam Peters Collection). The female portrait was acquired through a Douglas Stewart Fine Books dealers’ catalogue (Melbourne) for KLW NFC Imprint & Private Collection in 2013. … More Male and female clerics and Nevin’s table 1870s
Clients of early photographers were advised to wear clothing in strong patterns to distinguish the figure from the background in the final sepia print. This is a very small selection featuring unidentified women from dozens of Thomas J. Nevin’s commercial studio portraits dated from the early to mid 1870s. These clients differed in social status, as the cut and style and fabric of their dresses suggest, in addition to their jewellery and hair-dos, but they wore their finest day dress for the occasion. Some stared directly at the photographer, others gazed towards left or right of the frame. Most are young, but extant portraits of older women who seemed to favour his services also number in the dozens. Each of these cdvs shows variations in Nevin’s studio decor, his portraiture techniques, and printed frames. Some are also hand tinted. … More Nevin’s women clients and their dresses 1870s
James Geary was born in Hobart to Ellen and Stephen Geary, a labourer, on 12th March 1844. His career in convicted crime began with horse-stealing in 1865, at 20 yrs old. He was photographed by Thomas J. Nevin in 1874 at the Hobart Gaol when he was 30 yrs old. His next extant mugshot was taken by Constable John Nevin at the Hobart Gaol in 1877 when he was 33 yrs old, and used again in 1889 when he was registered as 45 yrs old. His last police photograph was taken (by unknown) at the Police Office, Hobart in 1893 when he was 49 yrs old. Date of death unknown, possibly 1897 (see below), … More Prisoner James GEARY: mugshots and rap sheet 1865-1896
Thomas J. Nevin’s photographic commissions to provide documentary records for the Colonial Government’s Lands and Survey Department, date from the late 1860s (1868) while operating from his commercial studio at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart. Nevin’s next commission from ca. February 1872 onwards was to provide prisoner identification photographs (mugshots) for the Prisons Department, Municipal Police Office, Hobart Town Hall and Hobart Gaol, which was also funded through the Hobart City Corporation’s Lands Department (Treasury). All of Nevin’s extant photographs bearing the Royal Arms insignia stamp were paid through his Lands Department contracts. Several prisoner photographs bearing this particular stamp were used to register joint copyright with the government (one sample per batch per year). Several extant portraits of HCC officials, their wives and children, all bear this Royal Arms insignia, for example, those of Constable William McVilly’s children, Laura and John. Thomas Nevin’s personal relationship with Lands Dept surveyor John Hurst, son of James Hurst who held the lease of the Salt Water Coal Mines on the Tasmanian Pensinsula until his death in 1876, extended to signing the birth registration of William Nevin Tatlow Hurst,John Hurst’s son, as informant at Hobart on 22nd May 1868. On the verso of the river scene below is inscribed the name of Alfred Pedder, son of Nevin’s colleague at the Municipal Police Office, Hobart Town Hall, Police Superintendent Frederick Pedder. Presumably, the cost for these portraits was funded jointly by the HCC and the families. Thomas Nevin was still being paid by the Lands Department in 1880 (Municipal Fund), by then receiving a full-time salary as a civil servant for the four years he served as Hall and Office Keeper of the Hobart Town Hall. … More Views and Portraits for the Lands & Survey Department
How cheap was “cheap”? Three years previously, when Thomas Nevin was assistant in Alfred Bock’s studio at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart before Bock’s departure and Nevin &Smith acquiring the business, he would have taken exception to the word “cheap” directed at Alfred Bock’s practice. The dispute about the ownership and copyright of the sennotype process between Henry Frith and Alfred Bock in 1864-1865 embittered both to the point of deciding to quit Tasmania. Frith’s rates for carte-de-visite portraits were expensive, two for 10/-, and his disdain for “cheap trash palmed off on the public as cheap photography” was loudly proclaimed in this advertisement in the Mercury of 6th April 1864. … More Tombstones copied, Terms: – Cheap!
Sixteen years ago (even earlier, actually) we started blogging about Tasmanian photographer Thomas J. Nevin (1842-1923). We look forward to another two years at least as the project draws closer to completion. Contributions and donations are most welcome, and many thanks for your involvement. … More Our Sixteenth Anniversary 2005-2021
Untitled, and held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, this example by Thomas Nevin of a popular and much photographed vista of the Queen’s Orphan School and St John’s Church, New Town Tasmania, could be titled “Long shadow with guard at the entrance to St John’s Avenue, New Town“. Its uniqueness as an artefact is the very rare studio stamp on the verso.This is the only extant example (to date) of Thomas Nevin’s earliest photography which bears the design with the wording “Thomas Nevins New Town Tasmania” set against a ribbon in three flat loops, enfolding a flowering plant, and printed in bright blue ink. Nevin was barely out of his teens, still a bachelor, and living with his parents in the house built by his father John Nevin next to the Lady Franklin Museum at Kangaroo Valley (New Town, Hobart, Tasmania.) … More A remarkable New Town studio stamp: Thomas Nevin+s
Robert Smith and Thomas Nevin established the firm of Nevin & Smith soon after Thomas Nevin acquired the stock, studio and glass house of Alfred Bock at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town in 1865. The partnership was brief, lasting less than two years. It was dissolved by Nevin’s family solicitor, the Hon. W. R. Giblin, in February 1868. Two studio stamps and one label have survived from their brief partnership.
Robert Smith may have operated a studio prior to his partnership with Nevin, as Mrs Esther Mather referred briefly to the “coloured ones from Smith’s” in a letter to her step-son, dated October 1865. On Robert Smith’s departure to Victoria, where he took up farming and politics, Thomas Nevin pasted the verso of a few more photographs with the label bearing their name, but with Smith’s name struck through, and the word “Late”added. … More The firm of Nevin & Smith stamps and label 1867-1868