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Australian art


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William Bardwell


active Australia 1859–95 -


William Bardwell was a professional photographer with a successful business in Ballarat and Melbourne. In Ballarat he formed a partnership with Saul Solomon in 1859 and together they exhibited photographic portraits at the 1862 Geelong Industrial Exhibition and the 1863 Ballarat Mechanics Institute Exhibition. It seems Bardwell was fond of using unusual vantage points: in 1863, the ‘Argus’ reported that he had photographed the ceremony of the laying of the foundation stone of the Burke and Wills memorial in Sturt Street from the roof of the Ballarat Post Office. ‘Bardwell established his own studio in 1866, which included rooms for ladies and gentlemen to prepare themselves for the lens’. He showed photographs of Ballarat at the 1870 Sydney Intercolonial exhibition (for sale at £6), and ‘a photographic panorama of the city of Ballarat’ as well as other photographs of its buildings and streets in the Victorian section of the London International Exhibition of 1873.

A carte de visite is a stiff card of about 10 x 6.4 cm, with an attached paper photograph, invented in 1854 by André-Adolphe-Eugène Disderi. They were introduced into Australia in 1859 by William Blackwood with albums arriving in 1860, aiding the collection and distribution of multiple cartes. Cartes were usually portraits and were made by the millions worldwide. Multi-lens, or ‘multiplying’ cameras were introduced in the 1860s, which were capable of producing from 2 to 32 images in quick succession, dramatically increasing the number of cartes de visite that could be made from a single photographic plate. They were easily reproduced by making paper contact prints from the glass plates, which were then cut and pasted to card.




Media category


Materials used

carte de visite


5.7 x 9.2 cm image; 6.2 x 10.5 cm mount card

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Purchased 2014


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

William Bardwell

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history