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Australian art


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Razzle Dazzle



Harold Cazneaux

New Zealand, Australia

30 Mar 1878 - 19 Jun 1953


Razzle Dazzle won Cazneaux international acclaim and positioned him at the forefront of pictorialist practice. It was exhibited at the London Salon of Photography in 1911 and appeared on the cover of the international journal, The Photographic Monthly in October of the same year. H. Snowden Ward, Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, praised Cazneaux for his bold creativity in choosing and framing the scene. He remarked, ‘I doubt there are six men known in the photographic world who are capable of “seeing” and appreciating such an arrangement’ 1. As Isobel Crombie argues, Razzle Dazzle’s uniqueness lies in its dynamism and unusual subject matter. The right side of the frame splices the ride resulting in the wheel only being captured in part amidst the amusement’s rotation 2. The blurred momentum of its lofty patrons and the lunging attitude of the ride’s manual operators contrast to the still, clear silhouettes of onlookers.
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. Ward, HS 1911, The London Salon, ‘The Photographic Monthly’ October Vol. XVIII No.214 p 288
2. Crombie I 2008, ‘The Razzle Dazzle 1910’, in ‘Harold Cazneaux: Artist in Photography’, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney p 71
3. Newton G 1988, ‘Shades of Light: Photography and Australia 1839-1988’, Australian National Gallery, Canberra p 85




Media category


Materials used

gelatin silver photograph


22.5 x 28.5 cm image/sheet; 31.1 x 35.7 cm card

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Gift of the Cazneaux family 1975


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Harold Cazneaux

Works in the collection


Shown in 6 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 13 publications


Natasha Bullock, Harold Cazneaux: artist in photography, Sydney, 2008.

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

Natasha Bullock, Look, 'Harold Cazneaux: artist in photography', pg.28-31, Sydney, Jun 2008, cover (illus.), 30.

Sandra Byron, Fine and Mostly Sunny: Photographs from the collection, Sydney, 1991. 17

Max Dupain, Cazneaux - Photographs by Harold Cazneaux 1878-1953, Canberra, 1978. plate no. 32

Philip Geeves and Gael Newton, Philip Geeves presents Cazneaux's Sydney 1904-1934, Sydney, 1980, 38, 39 (illus.). plate no. 39

Valerie Hill, The Cazneaux Women, 'A way of life and a way of art 1900-1920s', pg.34-45, St Leonards, 2000, 36 (illus. - detail), 40 (illus.), 41, 118.

Gael Newton, Project 7: Harold Cazneaux 1878 - 1953, Sydney, 1975. 2

Gael Newton, Silver and Grey - Fifty Years of Australian Photography 1900-1950, 1980, illus.. plate no. 22

Gael Newton, Australian Pictorial Photography, Melbourne, 1979, 8, 16. 18

H. Snowden Ward (Editor), Photograms of the Year, London, 1911, 54-56.

Anne-Marie Willis, Picturing Australia - A History of Photography, Sydney, 1988, 139 (illus.). plate no. 83

Author Unknown, Contemporary Photography 1948, 1948, 14.