Skip to content

Update from the Gallery regarding COVID-19

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is open. We are observing strict physical distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Read the latest visit information




Australian art


View More:


Aboriginal woman with new born baby, Canning Stock Route, Western Australia

printed 1980


Axel Poignant

England, Australia, England

12 Dec 1906 - 05 Feb 1986


Though not born in Australia, Axel Poignant's work is largely about the 'Outback', its flora and fauna and the traditions of Australian and Indigenous identity. Poignant was born in Yorkshire in 1906 to a Swedish father and English mother, and arrived in Australia in 1926 seeking work and adventure. After tough early years of unemployment and homelessness, he eventually settled in Perth and found work as a portrait photographer, before taking to the road and the bush in search of new subjects. Poignant became fascinated with the photo-essay as a means of adding real humanity to the medium, and much of his work is in this form. The close relationships he developed with Aboriginal people on his travels are recorded in compassionate portraits of these people and their lives - the low angles and closely cropped frames appear more natural and relaxed than the stark compositions of earlier ethnographic photography.


Other Titles

Aboriginal girl with new born baby. Canning Stock Route, Western Australia



printed 1980

Media category


Materials used

gelatin silver photograph


32.9 x 28.4 cm image; 44.5 x 38.0 cm sheet

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. sheet, pencil "Axel Poignant 1980". Dated l.c. sheet, pencil "...1942".


Purchased 1978


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Axel Poignant

Works in the collection


Shown in 6 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 7 publications


Natasha Bullock, Australian postwar photodocumentary, Sydney, 2004. no catalogue numbers

Helen Ennis, Photography and Australia, London, 2007, 80 (illus.). fig.43, as 'Mary'

Josef Lebovic Gallery and Helen Ennis, Masterpieces of Australian Photography, Twentieth Century Photography, Sydney, 1989, 182, 183 (illus). 326

Robert McFarlane, Critic's Choice, Sydney, 1994.

Gael Newton, Edmund Capon AM, OBE and Hal Missingham, Axel Poignant retrospective, Sydney, 1982, foreward (illus.). 29

Gael Newton, Silver and Grey - Fifty Years of Australian Photography 1900-1950, 1980. plate no. 98

Rose Peel, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Australian postwar photo-documentary', pg.189-207, Sydney, 2007, 194.