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Australian art


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Nude study, from the album A portfolio of art photographs



Cecil Bostock


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




Media categories

Photograph , Album

Materials used

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

Accession number


Artist information

Cecil Bostock

Works in the collection


Shown in 5 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 7 publications


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

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, Australian Pictorial Photography, Melbourne, 1979, 5 (illus.), 16.

Gael Newton, Silver and Grey - Fifty Years of Australian Photography 1900-1950, 1980. plate no. 26

Wayne Tunnicliffe, Bridled Passions, Sydney, 1996, (illus.). no catalogue numbers

Anne-Marie Willis, Picturing Australia - A History of Photography, Sydney, 1988, 174 (illus.). 108