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Update from the Gallery regarding COVID-19

In line with decisions made by the National Cabinet as communicated by the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, the Art Gallery of New South Wales is currently closed but will reopen to the public on 1 June. The Gallery will be observing strict physical distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of all visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the State. More information




Australian art


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Barcroft Capel Boake

Ireland, Australia

1831 - 1921


Barcroft Capel Boake was born in Dublin and immigrated to Australia around 1858, spending most of his working life in Sydney. He had a successful photographic business while also working as Captain in the 7th Battery of New South Wales Voluntary Artillery. Boake made portraits and views and is now best known for his monumental mosaic of the returning New South Wales contingent of the Soudan campaign from c1890 (the contingent arrived after the event). He also practiced in a number of different photographic techniques including the heliograph and the instantaneous process. Despite the fierce competition from other photographic studios in Sydney, Boake maintained a reputation for artistic quality and fineness of execution.

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


9.1 x 5.9 cm image; 10.1 x 6.2 cm mount card

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Purchased 2014


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Barcroft Capel Boake

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history