Thomas Nevin’s stereographs: TMAG Collection

These stereographs taken between 1865 and 1876 by professional photographer Thomas J. Nevin are held in the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery collection, Hobart. Some were taken as commercial photographs for private clientele, for example those which bear verso his New Town studio stamp and those which bear recto his blind stamp impress. At least two in this collection were taken ca. 1867-1868 in partnership with Robert Smith operating from Alfred Bock’s former studio at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart as the firm “Nevin & Smith”. Others which bear Nevin’s government contractor stamp featuring the Royal Arms insignia were taken during his commissions with the Hobart City Council and Tasmanian colonial government. Several bear no photographer identification but are similar to others in terms of the pictured subject photographed several times around the same date, for example the group photographs of visitors to Adventure Bay, January 31st, 1872. … More Thomas Nevin’s stereographs: TMAG Collection

Nevin’s women clients and their dresses 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

Views and Portraits for the Lands & Survey Department

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

A remarkable New Town studio stamp: Thomas Nevin+s

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

The firm of Nevin & Smith stamps and label 1867-1868

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.

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

Thomas J. Nevin’s Blue Ink Series

For some time after Bock’s departure in 1865, Thomas Nevin was using the same supply of blue ink on the same design as Bock’s with just a minimal alteration to include Bock’s name as credential – “T. Nevin Late A. Bock” – enclosed by a belt – the belt being a popular and universal design of the period. The blue ink used in the verso stamp on this portrait of a baby is paler, suggesting Nevin’s supply was running low, expending the last for the vivid blue tinting around the baby’s shoulders, possibly executed by a studio assistant. … More Thomas J. Nevin’s Blue Ink Series

One of the last portraits by Alfred Bock in Hobart 1865

This photograph of a teenage girl with bare shoulders and ringlets may be one of the very last taken by Alfred Bock in Hobart Tasmania before his departure in 1865. The design of the studio stamp on the verso was altered only minimally by his younger partner Thomas J. Nevin who bought the lease of the studio, shop, the glass house and darkroom, the stock of negatives, camera equipment, backdrops and furniture etc at auction on August 2, 1865. Thomas Nevin continued to use the stamp’s design for his commercial studio portraiture for another decade, although he used at least six other designs for various formats and clients, including the Royal Arms insignia for his contracts and commission with the Colonial government. … More One of the last portraits by Alfred Bock in Hobart 1865

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

Trademarks copyrighted for 14 years

Tasmanian photographers’ copyright of their work was regulated by the Registration of Trade Marks Act 28, No. 6, Victoria, from 1864. As this notice indicates, only two copies of their trade mark, applied to the “goods” they were intended to protect were required to be deposited with the Registrar. The applicant was issued with a one year Provisional Certificate, and if no objection was raised, the copyright endured absolute for a period of 14 years. Tasmanian artists wishing to register proprietorship of paintings, drawings, works of art, engravings and photographs were required to place their applications with Office of Copyright Registry of Victoria. … More Trademarks copyrighted for 14 years

Another rare Nevin & Smith studio stamp

This studio stamp – with the Prince of Wales insignia – is the second type of stamp from Thomas Nevin’s studio that bears an official insignia. His other government stamp, which he used on the verso of several portraits of Tasmanian convicts while contracted as prison photographer at Port Arthur and the Hobart Gaol, features the Royal Arms insignia with lion and unicorn rampant. The Prince of Wales emblem was used on decorations for official functions during the Duke of Edinburgh’s visit in 1868 … … More Another rare Nevin & Smith studio stamp

Nevin’s Royal Arms studio stamp

Commercial photographers in Tasmania in the 1870s and 1880s were extended two basic but very different types of government support, and these differences are evident in the designs of their studio stamps. Henry Hall Baily, for example, used a stamp signifying patronage by the Governor of Tasmania. He photographed notable citizens, visiting VIPs and official functions, often with the express intention of submitting his photographs to national and international exhibitions. In other words, Baily was never contracted under tender to work for the Colonial government, merely rewarded for special commissions by the Governor. His stamp from the mid 1880s was printed with the words “Under the Patronage of His Excellency Sir G. C. Strahan”, and the initials “K.C.M.G” beneath. Thomas J. Nevin, by contrast, was issued with a stamp which contained the design of the Supreme Court seal and the Prisons Department publications banner because he served the Colonial government as a photographer on a regular basis in Supreme Court sittings. … More Nevin’s Royal Arms studio stamp

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

With Alfred Bock mid 1860s

The verso of this portrait of a standing child bears Alfred Bock’s studio stamp for the City Photographic Establishment which is identical in design to one of the stamps adopted by Thomas Nevin while working with Bock in the early 1860s. Nevin continued to use this design when he acquired Bock’s studio and stock, The City Photographic Establishment, in 1865 on Bock’s departure from Tasmania. … More With Alfred Bock mid 1860s