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An image of Bondi Beach, Sydney by Henry King

Henry King

(Australia 1855 – 1923)

Bondi Beach, Sydney
circa 1889-1894
Media category
Materials used
albumen photograph

14.9 x 20.1 cm image/sheet

Signature & date
Signed l.r. [inscribed on glass plate negative] "...(H. King Syd.). Not dated.
Gift of Paul Mallard 1987
Accession number
Not on display
Further information

King’s success as a photographer eventually enabled him to build a large house in Bondi, with the beach a few streets away. Beach culture in the 19th century, however, was considerably different from today and the beach had not really established itself as an iconic part of the ‘Australian way of life’. Henry Burn’s ‘Brighton Beach’ 1862 is one of the earliest depictions of Australians by the sea. King probably took this charming photograph on the weekend, with the beach crowded. Yet the crowd is strolling and taking in the air, not swimming. A few have dared to take off their boots and paddle. The odd naked child ventures into the water. They probably escaped the daylight prohibition on bathing, which was in force in New South Wales until 1902.

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

Bibliography (2)

Jorge Calado, À Prova de Água Waterproof, Lisbon, 1998, (illus.). plate no. 142

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

Exhibition history (4)

Fine and mostly sunny: photographs from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 28 Sep 1991–01 Dec 1991

Souvenirs of Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 14 Mar 1992–10 May 1992

Waterproof - One Hundred Days Festival - Expo 98, Lisboa EXPO 98, Lisbon, 27 Feb 1998–31 May 1998

Bondi: a biography, Museum of Sydney, Sydney, 17 Dec 2005–19 Mar 2006