We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Shadow play

circa 1919


Harold Cazneaux

New Zealand, Australia

30 Mar 1878 – 19 Jun 1953

  • Details

    circa 1919
    Media category
    Materials used
    gelatin silver photograph
    26.3 x 32.7 cm image/sheet
    Signature & date

    Signed l.r. original mount, pencil "H. Cazneaux". Signed and dated c. verso original mount, pencil "...1920/.... H. Cazneaux".

    Gift of the Cazneaux family 1975
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Harold Cazneaux

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Harold Cazneaux is described as "the father of modern photography" in Australia. He was a founding member of the Sydney Camera Circle, a group of photographers in the late 1910s and early 1920s who pursued a change in photographic style. Cazneaux's oeuvre is evidence of this change in representation and approach. His early work is marked by its soft hues and painterly characteristics, as these were the hallmarks of Pictorialism. Later, however, he attempted to portray the unique attributes of Australian light and subject matter, which was a move away from the romantic English inspired imagery that dominated photographic content at that time.

    In Shadow Play a formal harmony between light and dark is established in the jagged fence line and its corresponding shadows. The perspective and angle of the fence are shot in such a way as to figuratively lengthen the image, creating a sense of space and depth. The image is an early and eloquent example of the artist attempting yet another transformation in style: to fuse the soft impressionistic tones of Pictorialism with the dramatic forms and unusual angles reminiscent of Modernist photography.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 3 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 3 publications

Other works by Harold Cazneaux

See all 196 works