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An image of Nude study by Cecil Bostock

Cecil Bostock

(Australia 1884 – 1939)

Nude study, from the album A portfolio of art photographs
Media categories
Photograph, Album
Materials used
gelatin silver photograph

15.7 x 11.2 cm image/sheet

Signature & date
Signed l.r. leaf 6, pencil "C.W Bostock". Signed label inside front cover, pencil "...Cecil W Bostock". Not dated.
Gift of Mrs Eleanor Morris 1977
Accession number
Not on display
Further information

Bostock had a reputation as a testy and independent character. Although he was a key figure among the Sydney pictorialists, he never believed himself bound by their conventions. His images are characteristically austere and crisp. No doubt with some of his colleagues in mind, he once wrote ‘fuzziness is not necessarily art’.1 ‘Nude study’ is typical of his particular style of ‘straight photography’. Against the advice of experts, who wrote that ‘a more frontal lighting reveals far more subtly than does the side light, which leaves the face half hidden in the shadow’, he has deliberately broken the rules to produce one of the most memorable nude studies by an Australian pictorialist.2 Bostock and Cazneaux had the keenest sense of design among their photographic contemporaries. Bostock designed the logo for the Sydney Camera Circle and produced publications for the Australian salon of photography in 1924 and 1926. His preference for simple, graphic design is apparent in this photograph, as it is in his later semi-abstract studies.

1. Bostock C 1921, ‘Australian landscape and some notes on composition’, ‘Australasian Photo-Review’, 15 Jan p 12
2. Tilney F C 1930, ‘The principles of photographic pictorialism’, Chapman & Hall, London p 86

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

Bibliography (7)

Natasha Bullock (Curator), Soft shadows and sharp lines: Australian photography from Cazneaux to Dupain, Sydney, 2002. no catalogue numbers

Robert McFarlane, Critic's Choice, Sydney, 1994. no catalogue numbers

Steven Miller, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Australian pictorialism', pg.71-91, Sydney, 2007, 86 (illus.).

Gael Newton, Silver and Grey - Fifty Years of Australian Photography 1900-1950, 1980. plate no. 26

Gael Newton, Australian Pictorial Photography, Melbourne, 1979, 5 (illus.), 16.

Wayne Tunnicliffe, Bridled Passions, Sydney, 1996, (illus.). no catalogue numbers

Anne-Marie Willis, Picturing Australia - A History of Photography, Sydney, 1988, 174 (illus.). 108

Exhibition history (5)

Australian Pictorial Photography:

Seeing is believing - the art in photography, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 13 Dec 1985–19 Jan 1986

Critic's Choice, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 22 Apr 1994–10 Jul 1994

Bridled Passions, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 23 Nov 1996–02 Feb 1997

Soft Shadows and Sharp Lines: Australian photography from Cazneaux to Dupain, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 30 Sep 2002–17 Nov 2002