‘I love the bush, and nothing gives me greater delight than to stand on the top of some high land and look out on a wild array of our grand mountains. I am struck dumb, but oh! my soul sings.’ John Beattie c1899 1
Born in Aberdeen, Scotland, John Watt Beattie was introduced to photography by his father. The family moved to Tasmania in 1878 and four years later Beattie began working in the studio of the Anson brothers in Hobart. By 1891 he had bought out the brothers, acquiring photographs by them and others which he was able to publish. He was elected a member of the Royal Society of Tasmania in 1890 and formed the historical and geographical section of the society in 1899. He was appointed Photographer of the Government of Tasmania in 1896 and operated a successful business in Hobart, eventually selling his collection in 1927 to the city of Launceston.
Beattie’s earliest years in Australia had been spent working his father’s farm at Mount Lloyd, near New Norfolk in Tasmania. The landscape of this region was well known to him and he photographed it on many occasions. It was the principal region for Tasmanian hop growing. This photograph of a hop plantation is taken after the harvest, with hop poles dug up and stacked in tent-shaped piles for use in the following year. The photograph was reproduced in the inaugural 1898 ‘Australian Photographic Journal Annual’ and a very similar work was included in the ‘Cyclopedia of Tasmania’ 1900, demonstrating Beattie’s popularity as a landscape photographer and propagandist for Tasmania.2 Beattie believed New Norfolk was a region in which ‘the conditions for good photography are best, calm days prevailing, and the river affording very fine reflections’.3
1.Tassell M & Wood D 1981, 'Tasmanian photographer from the John Watt Beattie collection', Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston p 8
2. 1898, ‘Australian Photographic Journal Annual’, Harrington & Co, Sydney p 113
3. ibid p 152
© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007
21.2 x 26.7 cm image/sheet; 24.3 x 29.5 cm card
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Not on display
Shown in 4 exhibitions
Masterpieces of Australian Photography, Josef Lebovic Gallery, Kensington, 24 Jun 1989–22 Jul 1989
Selected recent acquisitions, 1989, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 05 Sep 1989–17 Dec 1989
Photographs from the Collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 30 Mar 1993–09 May 1993
Critic's Choice, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 22 Apr 1994–10 Jul 1994
Referenced in 3 publications
Josef Lebovic Gallery and Helen Ennis, Masterpieces of Australian Photography, Late Nineteenth Century Photography, Sydney, 1989, 74, 75 (illus). cat. no. 127
Robert McFarlane, Critic's Choice, Sydney, 1994, 4 (illus.), 8.
Steven Miller, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'In every house, and in every tent', pg.33-51, Sydney, 2007, 36 (illus.), 46 (illus.).