Exhibition 2019: T. J. NEVIN’s mugshot of prisoner James BLANCHFIELD 1875

The large wall poster (on right) at the exhibition titled “Photographs of Australian and British Convicts” which opened at the Hobart Penitentiary (the former Hobart Gaol and House of Corrections, Campbell St.) in July 2019 features the mugshot of James Blanchfield taken by Thomas Nevin in 1875, together with a jolly japes biography of the prisoner, finishing with the sentence:

“…at the age of fifty he found himself sentenced to 5 years imprisonment and was packed off to Port Arthur where this photograph was taken.”

Actually, no: as the police gazette states, James Blanchfield was 48 years old on release in 1875, not 50 years old on sentence in 1873, and he spent less than two months at the Port Arthur prison, from 21st February 1873 to 20th April 1873. He served just twenty-six months of a three year sentence, not a five year sentence when he was discharged in April 1875. Additionally, he was photographed, not at the Port Arthur prison as claimed by the exhibition poster but at the Hobart Gaol, the very same site where Thomas Nevin’s photograph of him taken for police in 1875 now looms over visitors to the current exhibition, exactly 144 years later. … More Exhibition 2019: T. J. NEVIN’s mugshot of prisoner James BLANCHFIELD 1875

A distinguished forelock: Henry Dresser Atkinson on board the “City of Hobart” 1872

This stereograph by Thomas Nevin foregrounds an unidentified young woman, who may have been one of event organiser John Woodcock Graves’ four young daughters – Mimi (b. 1862), Mathinna (Matte b. 1859) Trucaninni (Truca b. 1864), the latter two both given Tasmanian Aboriginal names – or even fourteen year old Jean Porthouse Graves (b. 1858) who collected these photographs of the trip by Thomas Nevin for her album (see her portraits by Nevin below). This young woman with a steady gaze and fully rounded face, however, was possibly in her late teens. As she is sitting next to Henry Dresser Atkinson (1841–1921), she may have been his fiancee Sarah-Ann Ward (b. 1841 Launceston). Their son  Henry Bruné Dresser, born  on 17th  March 1874 at Gordon, Tasmania, was nursed – so legend goes – by Tasmanian Aboriginal  woman Trugernanner (Truganini) (1812–1876). Henry Dresser Atkinson’s first appointment on arrival from England was the Channel mission at Oyster Cove where Truganini’s group had been relocated to her traditional territory. … More A distinguished forelock: Henry Dresser Atkinson on board the “City of Hobart” 1872

The photographer’s tent at Port Arthur: 1872 or 1874?

This stereograph of a tent pitched on the lawn in front of the Government Cottage, with one gentleman in a top hat standing at a short distance, facing a young girl and another gentleman in a top hat outside the tent’s entrance, bears traces of multiple printings in different formats. The darkened round corners of the print suggest it was printed first in a double oval or binocular stereoscopic mount, and reprinted with squared corners. The dress fashion of the men and girl suggests day trippers in their Sunday best rather than the work-a-day dress of prison officials or local employees. If Nevin had taken this photograph in April 1874, the tent listed on the government schooner’s way bill definitely belonged to him, because he was away at Port Arthur and not in Hobart when the birth of his son Thomas James Nevin jnr in April 1874 was registered by his father-in-law Captain James Day, the only birth registration of his children he did not personally sign… However, if Nevin photographed this group two years earlier, on 1st February 1872, the more likely date, the girl and bearded man standing in front of the tent could be identified as Jean Porthouse Graves, the man as barrister Byron Miller (her future father-in-law), and the clean-shaven man facing them, solicitor John Woodcock Graves, Jean’s father. … More The photographer’s tent at Port Arthur: 1872 or 1874?

With Jean Porthouse GRAVES 1870s West Hobart

Two tall thin metal statues of a beggar and a harlequin flank the group on either side. Their significance and provenance is not known. Perhaps they were cast by a local sculptor for private decorative use, or they may have featured as props in a theatrical production, or even confiscated by Lukin Boyes at the Customs and Tariff Office. But it is the lion statue in the foreground which is the focal point of the image. It belonged to John Woodcock Graves’ family of Caldew, West Hobart. A later photograph taken of Jean Porthouse Graves ca. 1877 shows it placed near the doorway of the house. This stereograph taken by Thomas Nevin and the one immediately below it of members of the Graves, Miller and Boyes families were possibly taken on the same day, ca. 1870 and in the same location, at the back of Caldew when West Hobart was still a sparse “wilderness”. … More With Jean Porthouse GRAVES 1870s West Hobart