Nude study, from the album A portfolio of art photographs
1884 - 1939
Bostock had a reputation as a testy and independent character. Although he was a key figure among the Sydney pictorialists, he never believed himself bound by their conventions. His images are characteristically austere and crisp. No doubt with some of his colleagues in mind, he once wrote ‘fuzziness is not necessarily art’.1 ‘Nude study’ is typical of his particular style of ‘straight photography’. Against the advice of experts, who wrote that ‘a more frontal lighting reveals far more subtly than does the side light, which leaves the face half hidden in the shadow’, he has deliberately broken the rules to produce one of the most memorable nude studies by an Australian pictorialist.2 Bostock and Cazneaux had the keenest sense of design among their photographic contemporaries. Bostock designed the logo for the Sydney Camera Circle and produced publications for the Australian salon of photography in 1924 and 1926. His preference for simple, graphic design is apparent in this photograph, as it is in his later semi-abstract studies.
1. Bostock C 1921, ‘Australian landscape and some notes on composition’, ‘Australasian Photo-Review’, 15 Jan p 12
2. Tilney F C 1930, ‘The principles of photographic pictorialism’, Chapman & Hall, London p 86
© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007
gelatin silver photograph
15.7 x 11.2 cm image/sheet
Signature & date
Signed l.r. leaf 6, pencil "C.W Bostock". Signed label inside front cover, pencil "...Cecil W Bostock". Not dated.
Gift of Mrs Eleanor Morris 1977
Not on display
Shown in 5 exhibitions
Australian Pictorial Photography:
- S.H. Ervin Gallery, The Rocks 12 Jun 1979–08 Jul 1979
- The Victorian College of the Arts Gallery, South Bank 08 Aug 1979–31 Aug 1979
- Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide 01 Dec 1979–30 Jan 1980
Seeing is believing - the art in photography, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 13 Dec 1985–19 Jan 1986
Critic's Choice, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 22 Apr 1994–10 Jul 1994
Bridled Passions, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 23 Nov 1996–02 Feb 1997
Soft Shadows and Sharp Lines: Australian photography from Cazneaux to Dupain, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 30 Sep 2002–17 Nov 2002
Referenced in 7 publications
Robert McFarlane, Critic's Choice, Sydney, 1994. no catalogue numbers
Steven Miller, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Australian pictorialism', pg.71-91, Sydney, 2007, 86 (illus.).
Gael Newton, Silver and Grey - Fifty Years of Australian Photography 1900-1950, 1980. plate no. 26
Picturing Australia - A History of Photography, Sydney, 1988, 174 (illus.). fig.no. 108
Bridled Passions, Sydney, 1996, (illus.). no catalogue numbers
Gael Newton, Australian Pictorial Photography, Melbourne, 1979, 5 (illus.), 16.
Natasha Bullock (Curator), Soft shadows and sharp lines: Australian photography from Cazneaux to Dupain, Sydney, 2002. no catalogue numbers