Photographic works extant in public collections taken by Hobart professional photographer Thomas J. Nevin (1842-1923) in Tasmania during the 1860s and 1870s are regularly displayed at exhibitions held by Australian national galleries and museums. In many cases, a publication in book form accompanies the exhibition. This year’s exhibition titled WHO ARE YOU includes a hand-tinted carte-de-visite of a woman yet to be identified, taken by Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1865-67. The exhibition of 230 works – 79 from the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, and 160 from the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne – represent all visual media of photography, painting, sculpture, works on papers and video. … More T. Nevin cdv at the “Who Are You” exhibition, NGV and NPG 2022
A boy and his photograph: no longer “Anon”
Item no. NS434-1-121 – “Photograph – Anon – boy – c. 1870s” from the series “NS434 Photographs of the Chandler, Genge and Hooper Families 01 Jan 1860 31 Dec 1960” was listed online at the Archives Office of Tasmania but without the digitised image when a Nevin family descendant recently requested a preview and scan. It was a stab in the dark, a random choice from the two dozen family photographs of the Nevin, Genge, and Chandler families from the Chandler/Hooper collection, more so since neither the “boy” nor the photographer was named. The scan provided by the AOT revealed this fine portrait of a very handsome eleven year old boy in uniform, immediately identifiable as a portrait taken by Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1871 at his studio and business, the City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town, Tasmania. The Archives Office has since placed the image online … … More Lost originals: the Nevin, Genge and Chandler family photographs
In August 1866 at his Hobart studio, 42 Macquarie Street, photographer Charles A. Woolley (1834-1922) would ask of his three sitters, Truganini, William Lanney and Bessy Clark, to bear with him while he rearranged their clothing, repositioned the studio decor, swapped their seating, and gave instructions as to sightlines. This short session, perhaps no more than an hour, resulted in a series consisting of at least four full-length portraits of the trio as a group, each slightly different in configuration and composition. The earliest example to survive from this session, an original carte-de-visite produced by Charles A. Woolley before 1869, has surfaced in the family collections of Woolley’s young contemporary, Thomas J. Nevin (1842-1923). … More Lost and found: one day in 1866 and the scientific racism which followed
This carte-de-visite print of Charles Woolley’s original photograph of three Tasmanian Aborigines – Truganini (seated on left), William Lanne (centre, standing) and Bessy Clarke (on right), taken in 1866, was reprinted by another photographer’s studio, possibly Thomas Nevin’s, before Truganini’s death in 1876. The owner of the cdv print after purchase attempted hand-colouring of the drape and carpet with crimson. Similar inept hand-colouring was applied to a series of cdvs bearing Nevin’s name inscribed as “Clifford & Nevin” or his studio stamp with provenance in the north of Tasmania (QVMAG, Launceston; McCullagh Private Collection, etc). The provenance of this particular print is from the private collection of Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin’s grandchildren. The word “living” on the printed label, verso of this print, which appears to have been pasted over the back of the original cdv and probably bearing the stamp of another photographic studio, uses the present tense to indicate that Truganini was still alive in April 1869, while Bessy Clarke had died, 12th February 1867, and William Lanne had died, 3rd March 1869, thereby dating the first reprint of this photograph to April 1869 but not necessarily any subsequent prints which could have been produced in every decade until the early 1920s in the name of tourism, especially by John Watt Beattie, when this particular trio was heralded to represent the “Last Aborigines of Tasmania”. … More Reproductions of Charles A. Woolley’s portrait of Tasmanian Aborigines 1860s-1915
Who is this child?
Nine children were born to Camille Del Sarte and Ann Caroline Conroy between 1861 and 1874. Of the six boys, three are known to have survived to adulthood – Leopold Zavier, Camille Frederick and Ernest Ashley; and three did not live longer than 16 months – Francis Henry, Rolland Augustus (registered at birth as Gustavus Rowland at Hobart in 1864 but died in Sydney, 1865, 12 months old), and Henry John (twin of Henrietta Daisy). Of the three girls, Marie Albertine survived to adulthood, Henrietta Daisy (twin of Henry) died before the age of 12 months, and the third – Madalene – is known to have married as Madeline [sic] Ethel in 1918. The first to survive was Marie Albertine Del Sarte. She was likely a Francophone, or more competently bilingual than her younger siblings, an important factor in what follows. If this confident lad who visited Thomas Nevin’s studio is indeed a son of Camille Auguste and Ann Caroline Del Sarte nee Conroy, his identity could be established from the ages of two of their sons who were 3 to 6 yrs old between 1874-1876 while Thomas J. Nevin was still active at his Elizabeth St. studio. He could be Leopold Zavier (born 1866 in Sydney NSW who died in Victoria 1936). Or he could be Camille Frederick (born Sydney 1873, died Victoria 1960). The third son, Ernest Ashley (born Sydney 1874), was still a baby, less two years old and too young to be a contender. … More Thomas J. Nevin at his finest: Camille Del Sarte and family 1860s-1870s
The black and white print from another negative taken ca. 1872 of the same location from the same viewpoint with a telegraph pole (?) now evident in the centre of the image is correctly identified as the abbatoirs at Cattle Jetty, Queens Domain, owned and managed by the Hobart City Council. Thomas Nevin would have taken the original photograph a few years earlier under commission as government contractor for the Lands and Survey Dept. of the HCC, and supplied the Council with prints in various formats including a stereograph and unmounted cdv, with at least one photograph printed verso with the Royal Arms insignia of his official government contract stamp. The hand-coloured stereograph to survive bears no stamp verso, which suggests it was randomly saved from the HCC archives, or even studio rejects, and subsequently coloured by family members of a commercial client of Samuel Clifford’s (see stereo below) when reprinted from Nevin’s original sometime before 1878. … More The abbatoir and cattle yard stereograph ca.1870
Understandable, it seems, that a commercially produced photograph in 1860s-1870s Tasmania would show some sort of colouring to enhance its decorative or sentimental appeal, especially if the narrative suggested by the photograph was the civilizing of Tasmanian Aborigines who were thought to be near extinction by the last few decades of the 19th century, and that the photographic studio renowned for bold artistic experimentations with colouring was Friths on Murray Street, Hobart. Less understandable is the hand-tinting of photographs of prisoners – or “Convict Portraits” as they became known – taken expressly for police use as gaol records, unless, of course, the photographic studio engaged for the purpose of providing those mugshots was operated by Thomas J. Nevin, on Elizabeth Street, Hobart. … More Calling the shots in colour 1864-1879
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