Model in Norman Lindsay's garden, Springwood
New Zealand, Australia
30 Mar 1878 - 19 Jun 1953
Cazneaux was a frequent visitor to the Springwood home of Australian artist Norman Lindsay during the 1920s and 1930s. He was often commissioned to take portraits of the Lindsay family as well as of models who were the subjects of Lindsay’s art 1. This portrait displays classical touches such as the urn centre-frame and the unadorned body of the nude. Yet, perhaps the most interesting part of the picture is the way in which the shadows of the shrubbery laces across the model’s body. The impression of the vining leaves extends the physical reach of the plant. Much of Cazneaux’s photography embraced and experimented with shadow 2.
Harold Cazneaux was born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1878. His parents, Pierce Mott Cazneau and Emma Florence (née Bentley) worked in commercial studios in New Zealand before returning to settle permanently in Adelaide during the early 1890s. At the age of 18 Cazneaux went to work alongside his father at Hammer & Co studio as a retoucher. He moved to Sydney in 1904 to join the larger portrait firm, Freeman’s quickly ascending to the position of ‘chief operator’ (as camera portraitists were known). Studio work was highly formulaic, with little scope for creativity. Cazneaux used his time walking to and from work to experiment with pictorialist aesthetics 3. The Photographic Society of New South Wales organised an exhibition of Cazneaux’s photographs in 1909, the first such solo exhibition of its kind in Australia. In 1916 he and fellow pictorialist photographer, Cecil Bostock founded the Sydney Camera Circle. The group was particularly interested in the how pictorialism could be adapted to and extended within an Australian context. The mechanised, standardised and frenetic pace of Freeman’s increasingly took its toll on Cazneaux’s creativity and health, and he resigned in 1917. He moved with his wife and daughters to the Sydney suburb of Roseville, and in 1920 he was employed as the official photographer for The Home magazine. This new position let him work in a varied indoor and outdoor environments. In 1938 Cazneaux was awarded an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society of London. He continued to work until his death in 1953.
1. Hill V 2000, ‘The Cazneaux Women’, Craftsman House, Sydney p 83-4
2. Miles M 2015, ‘The Language of Light and Dark: Light and Place in Australian Photography’, McGills-Queen’s University Press, Montreal p 42-3
3. Newton G 1988, ‘Shades of Light: Photography and Australia 1839-1988’, Australian National Gallery, Canberra p 85
gelatin silver photograph, toned
28.6 x 19.0 cm image/sheet
Signature & date
Signed u.c. verso, pencil "Cazneaux". Not dated.
Gift of the Cazneaux family 2000
Not on display
Shown in 1 exhibition
Special Collectors list no. 60A, Josef Lebovic Gallery, Kensington, 1996–1996