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An image of Surf, Coogee, Sydney by Charles Bayliss

Charles Bayliss

(England, Australia 1850 – 1897)

Surf, Coogee, Sydney
Other titles:
Surf on Coogee Bay five miles from Sydney
circa 1880
Media category
Materials used
albumen photograph

15.4 x 21.0 cm image/sheet

Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Purchased with funds provided by the Photography Collection Benefactors' Program 1999
Accession number
Not on display
Further information

In 1876 the poet Henry Kendall wrote about ‘wave-worn Coogee’, celebrating the wildness of the place: ‘jags and points disrupted, gaps and fractures fringed with light.’ Kendall’s picture of the turbulent coast of Coogee is in sharp contrast to the sun-filled and cheery beachscapes which Tom Roberts and Charles Conder painted there. Bayliss may have been familiar with Kendall’s verse, although the poetic notion of the ‘ever-restless sea’ was well established in 19th-century verse and art. The AGNSW acquired their painting of this title by W Lister Lister in 1892. Poetic and romantic allusions aside, photographs of the sea – ‘instantaneous’ photographs which demonstrated a photographer’s technical abilities – were not uncommon. As one reviewer noted about the genre: ‘several instantaneous views of scenes, into which water in a state of motion enters, are highly artistic and effective.’1

1. 1885, 'New Guinea memorial volume', 'Sydney Morning Herald', 9 Feb p 4

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

Bibliography (1)

Steven Miller, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'In every house, and in every tent', pg.33-51, Sydney, 2007, 45 (illus.).