Silver and grey, Circular Quay
New Zealand, Australia
30 Mar 1878 - 19 Jun 1953
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 1.
Silver and grey was first exhibited in 1909 when Cazneaux’s photographs formed a solo exhibition hosted by the Photographic Society of New South Wales. This exhibit was tremendously significant for Cazneaux’s career as it established him as an artist photographer and pre-eminent contributor to the nascent Australian pictorialist movement. Silver and grey includes a range of traditionally pictorialist subjects; clouds, water, smoke and steam were all common inclusions in pictorialist photography in Australia and internationally because of their light-permeable capacity. Cazneaux remarked that these elements in Silver and grey acted as ‘delicate graduations’ disrupting the fore, middle and background of his shot 2. Cazneaux’s pictures were an atmospheric celebrations of city life rather than exercises in photo-documentary.
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. Newton G 1988, ‘Shades of Light: Photography and Australia 1839-1988’, Australian National Gallery, Canberra p 85
2. Cazneaux H 1909, ‘Comments on the “One-Man” Show’, unpublished manuscript, MS8361, Folder 7, National Library of Australia, Canberra p 3
gelatin silver photograph on parchment paper
16.0 x 16.2 cm image/sheet
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Gift of the Cazneaux family 1979
Not on display
Shown in 6 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
Three years on: acquisitions 1978-81, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 15 Oct 1981–01 Dec 1981
Harbour hymns, city songs: visions of Sydney from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 13 Jan 1990–11 Mar 1990
My city of Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 02 Sep 2000–22 Oct 2000
Soft Shadows and Sharp Lines: Australian photography from Cazneaux to Dupain, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 30 Sep 2002–17 Nov 2002
Harold Cazneaux: artist in photography, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 05 Jun 2008–10 Aug 2008
Referenced in 11 publications
Sandra Byron, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Photography', pg. 125-135, Sydney, 1988, 125 (illus.), 126.
Gael Newtown, Three years on: a selection of acquisitions 1978-1981, 'Photography - Australian, European and American', pg. 67-84, Sydney, 1981, 73 (illus.). cat.no. 14
Sydney Ure Smith and Unknown (Editors), Art in Australia [series 3, no. 20], Sydney, Jun 1927, 61.
Philip Geeves presents Cazneaux's Sydney 1904-1934, Sydney, 1980, 16.
Unknown, Harbour hymns, city songs: visions of Sydney from the collection, Sydney, 1990. cat.no. 43
Australian Pictorial Photography, Melbourne, 1979, 17. cat.no. 21
My city of Sydney, Sydney, 2000. no pagination or catalogue numbers
Unknown, Harold Cazneaux: artist in photography, Sydney, 2008.
Unknown (Curator), Soft shadows and sharp lines: Australian photography from Cazneaux to Dupain, Sydney, 2002. no pagination or catalogue numbers
Lone Hand, Sydney, 02 Nov 1914, 397.
Gael Newton, Silver and Grey - Fifty Years of Australian Photography 1900-1950, 1980. fig.no. 6