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Title

Peace after war and memories

1918


Artist

Harold Cazneaux

New Zealand, Australia

30 Mar 1878 - 19 Jun 1953


About

The end of the First World War came on (the now deeply embedded) eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. The impact of the war on Australians had been enormous. Cazneaux, who was to lose his son in a later conflict, had friends who had served or who had been killed. This mysterious image marks the end of the conflict and is a memento to what had been lost. Unlike the confronting photomontages of Frank Hurley, Australia’s first official war photographer, this photograph is quiet and obvert. A farmer pauses from work, like a labourer from Jean François Millet’s ‘The Angelus’. He appears to read a telegram, perhaps bringing news of peace.1 Sunbeams break through the clouds and give the scene a dramatic, almost cinematic quality, suggestive of biblical promise: ‘and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.’ This photograph probably had personal connotations for the artist beyond the war. Cazneaux had recently suffered a complete nervous and physical collapse. Although this forced him to quit his job at Freeman’s, it was eventually to bring real equilibrium into his life and make possible a great creative burst of photography throughout the 1920s and 1930s.

1. This figure has been interpreted elsewhere as a soldier-settler

© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007


Details


Date

1918


Media category

Photograph


Materials used

gelatin silver photograph


Dimensions

26.4 x 32.4 cm image/sheet; 35.3 x 40.8 cm card


Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Credit

Gift of the Cazneaux family 1975


Location

Not on display


Accession number

117.1975


Artist information

Harold Cazneaux

Works in the collection

170


Shown in 6 exhibitions

Exhibition history


Referenced in 7 publications

Bibliography


Natasha Bullock, Harold Cazneaux: artist in photography, Sydney, 2008.

Steven Miller, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Australian pictorialism', pg.71-91, Sydney, 2007, 70 (illus.), 83 (illus.).

Francis J Mortimer (Editor), Photograms of the Year, London, 1920, (illus.).

Gael Newton, Project 7: Harold Cazneaux 1878 - 1953, Sydney, 1975. cat.no. 14

Gael Newton, Australian Pictorial Photography, Melbourne, 1979, 17. cat.no. 22

Campbell Reid (Editor), The Weekend Australian, 'The Australian century supplement', Sydney, 17 Mar 2001-18 Mar 2001, (illus.).

Catherine Speck, Painting ghosts: Australian women artists in wartime, Melbourne, 2004, 87 (colour illus.), 87. illus.no. 46; Note: this print is not from the collection of the AGNSW but from the NGA, Canberra.