Thomas Nevin’s Christmas feat 1874

A PHOTOGRAPHIC FEAT. – Mr T. J. Nevin, of Elizabeth-street, has performed a feat in photography which may be justly regarded as a literary curiosity. He has succeeded in legibly producing the front page of The Mercury of Wednesday, the 23 inst., on a card three inches by two inches. Many of the advertisements could be read without the aid of a glass, and the seven columns admit of a margin all round the card. … More Thomas Nevin’s Christmas feat 1874

Woman with pink ribbons by Thomas Nevin 1870s

This carte-de-visite of an unidentified older woman, one of many older women who favoured Thomas Nevin’s services for this type of full-length studio portrait, is unusual in that the pink tint applied to her bonnet ribbons is the same shade of pink applied to the ribbons worn by Pangernowidedic in a reprint, ca. 1875 of four Tasmanian Aborigines who were photographed originally in 1864 as a series taken at Government House. … More Woman with pink ribbons by Thomas Nevin 1870s

Prisoner Richard COPPING and Hobart Gaol executions

Police photographer Thomas J. Nevin took this vignette of Richard Copping for prison records at the Hobart Gaol when Copping was remanded at the Supreme Court on 23rd July 1878. Copping was executed at the Hobart Gaol on 21st October 1878 for the murder of Susannah Stacey. Copping’s medical defence, Dr Benjafield, who sought clemency for the 19 yr old youth and was mindful of public discontent with the continuance of capital punishment, asserted Copping had softening of the brain. Dr Turnley disagreed, declared the youth sane, and the execution went ahead. Turnley’s post-mortem found no disease located in Copping’s brain. … More Prisoner Richard COPPING and Hobart Gaol executions

Photographers A. Bock, S. Clifford and T. Nevin at Port Arthur

In late March, 1866, photographer Alfred Bock was at the Port Arthur prison site on the Tasman Peninsula, 60 kms south of Hobart at the request of its Commandant, James Boyd. Alfred Bock’s studio – The City Photographic Establishment – at 140 Elizabeth Street, Hobart, was manned by his junior partner Thomas Nevin and his apprentice, younger brother William Bock, in his absence. Bock’s mission at Port Arthur was to provide a series of landscapes and portraits of officials. However, it was photographer Samuel Clifford, Nevin’s friend and mentor, of Liverpool Street, Hobart, who was the source and supplier of photographic materials to the Port Arthur prison administration, in this instance for Alfred Bock in March 1866, and again in August 1873, when Clifford himself visited the prison site. … More Photographers A. Bock, S. Clifford and T. Nevin at Port Arthur

Two couples, two dogs by A. Bock and T. Nevin

The “T. Nevin Late A. Bock” portrait of a middle-aged couple with a dog was hand-tinted by the family who purchased it or by subsequent owners. Such inept colouring was not the work of Nevin himself. His own family portraits show delicate and precise tinting. Other heavily tinted portraits bearing the same studio stamp used by Nevin for commercial portraiture into the early 1870s show the owners’ preference for red and violet colours. This portrait of a couple with dog is unusual in that green and brown colours were used. In all these extant cartes-de-visite portraits bearing Nevin’s stamp which were coloured subsequent to purchase, it is the carpet which has received the most savage treatment. The strange blobs defy conventional perspective, although the intention may have been the opposite. This carte – as with many of the others bearing amateurish daubs – probably originated from the same family in northern Tasmania. … More Two couples, two dogs by A. Bock and T. Nevin

Posing with a stereoscopic viewer

Clients of early photographers were not the only ones to pose with the photographer’s own stereoscope(s). Two extant cartes-de-visite self-portraits by Thomas J. Nevin from The Nevin Family Collections captured his treasured stereoscopes, one with him holding a small viewer, possibly a Brewster, ca. 1868, and another with him standing next his large table-top stereoscopic viewer, possibly a Beckers (ca 1875). … More Posing with a stereoscopic viewer

A highly coloured portrait

DECOR: the shiny low chair, the table with griffin-shaped legs, tinted flowers and hair ribbons, the draped curtain, the diamond-patterned carpet, and the backdrop of a patterned patio looking out from an Italianate terrace to a vista of a meandering river, characterise this phase or aspect of Nevin’s commercial practice. … More A highly coloured portrait

Christmas 1874: Thomas Nevin’s photographic feat

Seasons Greetings 2009 to all our readers, researchers, contributors and extended family.

Visitors to Thomas J. Nevin’s weblogs on 2nd January 2010 at midday:
On Christmas Day, 25th December 1874, The Mercury newspaper (Tasmania) published a notice which served the dual purpose of praising Nevin’s photographic talents and suggesting by way of praise that the “literary curiosity” would make a great gift as a Christmas card: … More Christmas 1874: Thomas Nevin’s photographic feat

Nevin’s portraits of children gifted to the Duke 1868

On the day fixed for his departure from Tasmania, 18th January 1868, H.R.H Prince Alfred was presented with an album of photographs.The album contained “eighty three photographs illustrative of the scenery of Tasmania, forty eight portraits of children born in the colony, and nine plates immediately connected with the Prince’s visit” according to the report of the visit written by John George Knight … … More Nevin’s portraits of children gifted to the Duke 1868

Thomas Nevin’s Christmas cards 1874

A PHOTOGRAPHIC FEAT. – Mr T. J. Nevin, of Elizabeth-street, has performed a feat in photography which may be justly regarded as a literary curiosity. He has succeeded in legibly producing the front page of The Mercury of Wednesday, the 23 inst., on a card three inches by two inches. Many of the advertisements could be read without the aid of a glass, and the seven columns admit of a margin all round the card. … More Thomas Nevin’s Christmas cards 1874

Portraits by T.J. Nevin in The Lucy Batchelor Collection

This selection from the Lucy Batchelor Album of 1870s carte-de-visite portraits by Tasmanian photographer Thomas J. Nevin (1842-1923), submitted courtesy of Robyn and Peter Bishop, was scanned from the original page. Each carte is mounted behind the cut-out frame of the album leaves. The album is ca. 150 years old. … More Portraits by T.J. Nevin in The Lucy Batchelor Collection

Key dates in Thomas Nevin’s life

From the early 1860s Thomas Nevin operated a photographic studio at New Town with the business name of “Thomas Nevins”. By 1865 he was apprenticed to photographer Alfred Bock whose residence and studio he leased from A. Biggs at 138-140 Elizabeth Street, Hobart Town on Alfred Bock’s departure for Victoria in 1867 (Hobart Town Gazettes 1870s). Nevin maintained the business name of the studio, The City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town. With partner Robert Smith, they formed the firm Nevin & Smith, producing stereographic views and hand-tinted studio portraits (TMAG and Private Collections). The firm Nevin & Smith was commissioned to take an album of Tasmanian children in 1868 to be presented to the Duke of Edinburgh (State Library of Victoria Collection). The firm of Nevin & Smith was dissolved on 22nd February 1868, undersigned by Thomas Nevin’s solicitor, later Attorney-General, W.R. Giblin. Thomas Nevin exhibited photographs of Melville St under snow (1868) and A Party at the Rocking Stone Mt Wellington (1870) at the Wellington Park Exhibitions (TMAG Collection). He also exhibited stereoscopic views and cartes at the Town Hall Bazaar on 1st April, 1870 (Mercury). For his work as the firm of Nevin & Smith, he was granted a colonial Royal Warrant, and for his work with the Lands and Survey Department of the colonial government, he was granted another colonial Royal warrant by authority. By 1870 Nevin was providing photographs of mining and reservoir works at the Huon and Cascades on government commission, as well as providing group portraits and landscapes for groups of tourists to Lady Franklin’s Museum and Kangaroo Valley. … More Key dates in Thomas Nevin’s life

Thomas Nevin self portraits 1850s-1880

There are not many extant “self portraits” of Tasmanian colonial photographers of the 1850s-1880. The watercolour attributed to Alfred Bock of a young gentleman is held at the State Library of Tasmania; the stereograph of a supine Thomas Nevin and friend is held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery; and the rest are held in descendants’ private collections. These portraits all exhibit interesting variations in male facial hair fashions. … More Thomas Nevin self portraits 1850s-1880

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

Thomas Nevin’s portraits of his wife Elizabeth Rachel

This is an old black and white enlargement of a detail of a portrait of Elizabeth Rachel Nevin (1847-1914) in her later years, probably taken ca. 1900 by her husband. Just her face was magnified to an unusually large size, measuring approx. 8×10. It has the impact of a modern cinematic close-up. The magnified final image was pasted to grey cardboard. … More Thomas Nevin’s portraits of his wife Elizabeth Rachel

Prisoner Walter JOHNSTONE aka Henry BRAMALL or TAYLOR

Henry Taylor was tried at the Supreme Court Hobart on 4th July 1871, along with John Appleby, one of the first photographs of prisoners taken by T.J. Nevin at the Supreme Court Hobart. The photograph of Taylor aka Bramall or Johnston was hand coloured by Nevin’s studio and placed in his shop window to assist the public in recognition and recapture of the prisoner when he absconded on February 6, 1874 from a gang at the Cascade factory. … More Prisoner Walter JOHNSTONE aka Henry BRAMALL or TAYLOR

Prisoner Job SMITH aka Wm Campbell 1875

From the cell to the gallows, Smith betrayed no physical emotion, his step being steady, and his demeanour apparently composed. On arriving at the drop ,the Under-Sheriff asked the unfortunate man if he had anything to say. Smith replied, ” I am not guilty ; I am an innocent man.”The Under-Sheriff then read the following written statement : -” I was born at Bristol on the 23rd of November, 1819, and was a Protestant all my life. Became a Roman Catholic upon receiving sentence of death. I have left with my [spiritual] director a statement, which, in his discretion, I request him to publish wholly or in part.” … More Prisoner Job SMITH aka Wm Campbell 1875

National Library of Australia’s convict portraits

Many of these convict cartes held at the NLA are duplicates of the same images held at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, and the Archives Office of Tasmania. This simple fact underscores the extensive copying which has taken place since the mid 20th century, principally from the QVMAG collection: 1958, 1977, 1982, 1985, 1987 and most recently for a digital database. Although the Nevin brothers photographed more than 3000 prisoners, the bulk has been lost, destroyed or sold at private auction. The remaining 300 or so were selected or salvaged by Beattie ca. 1916 to sell to tourists; he selected only those prisoners whose sentences were severe enough to warrant a criminal sitting in the Supreme Court: the offender’s apparent notoreity was the selling point. In this respect, the are not a random selection, nor a series. But they were not salvaged because they were an archive held at Port Arthur; they were never held at Port Arthur, nor taken there. Nevin photographed the prisoner once as a single capture in Hobart, produced prints from his original glass negatives at his city studio and later at studios in the Gaol and MPO, and made at least four duplicates from his glass negative for circulation to other prisons and police in regional Tasmania, in addition to the copies needed to paste onto warrants, prisoner records sheets, and the central register held at the Hobart Town Hall. … More National Library of Australia’s convict portraits

Thomas Nevin’s hand-coloured mugshots

By the MAYOR: … It was not true that between the hours of 10 and 11 o’clock on Thursday night, Constables Oakes and Priest took witness home in a state of intoxication. Witness had a photographic apparatus and chemicals in his possession. He had not made any ornaments of different colours for any one lately. He was not at any time on Thursday night under the influence of liquor. He did not think it was right to leave the Town Hall for so many hours as he had. He considered, however, that when he heard the constables’ whistle he was justified in going to render them assistance… … More Thomas Nevin’s hand-coloured mugshots

Nevin & Smith tinted vignette of Elizabeth Rachel Day

This is a rare hand-tinted portrait taken by Thomas Nevin of his fiancee while in partnership with Robert Smith, who may have been an independent photographer prior to his partnership with Nevin between ca. 1865 and its dissolution in 1868. By about 1863, according to Esther Mather (d.1872, aged 77 years), Smith was providing the citizens of Hobart Town with coloured photographs. … More Nevin & Smith tinted vignette of Elizabeth Rachel Day

W. R. Giblin, Judge, Attorney-General and Premier

W. R. Giblin was Tasmanian Administrator for a month during 1886. He was also Attorney-General in August 1873, and Premier in 1878, and 1879 to 1884. Thomas Nevin’s commission to photograph prisoners at the Port Arthur and Hobart Gaols was underwritten by W. R. Giblin in August 1873 on gaining the portfolio of Attorney-General in the government changeover. … More W. R. Giblin, Judge, Attorney-General and Premier

Execution of prisoners SUTHERLAND and OGDEN 1883

The colouring of these cartes served two purposes: to render a more accurate image reflective of reality, i.e. blue for blue eyes, blue for the prison issue scarf, especially when the man was wanted on warrant; and to profit from the sale of the hanged man’s image to the press and the public. These were called “ornaments of colour”, a term used in reference to Nevin’s tinting of prisoner photographs in the Mercury newspaper account of Nevin’s incident with the “ghost” (December 4, 1880).

More Execution of prisoners SUTHERLAND and OGDEN 1883

Clifford & Nevin’s cartes:tints versus daubs

None of the men pictured is Thomas Nevin or his brother Jack Nevin or his father John Nevin. None of these cartes was ever held in Nevin Family Collections, and none was coloured in this way by Nevin or any of his family. The cdv of the two men was recently exhibited at the QVMAG and published in the catalogue The Painted Portrait Photograph in Tasmania (John McPhee 2007). … More Clifford & Nevin’s cartes:tints versus daubs

Clifford & Nevin, and the coloured cartes

Thomas J. Nevin and Samuel Clifford (1827-1890) were close friends and colleagues over a period dating from ca. 1865 to Clifford’s death in 1890. This carte bearing the handwritten inscription “Clifford and Nevin, Hobart Town” is one of several in private and public collections. Scans courtesy © The Private Collection of John & Robyn McCullagh … More Clifford & Nevin, and the coloured cartes