Untitled (Children of the artist)
New Zealand, Australia
30 Mar 1878 - 19 Jun 1953
This is a portrait of one of Cazneaux’s middle daughters Jean with his youngest daughter Joan. The soft background of the portrait is typical of the pictorialist aesthetic, blurring form and line 1. Yet, the picture exhibits a marked graduation in focus between subject and background with the children being captured in clear, precise detail. This technique accentuates the child subjects within the frame and adds a sense of sentimentality to their picture.
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 2. The Photographic Society of New South Wales organised an exhibition of Cazneaux’s photographs in 1909, the first such solo exhibition of its kind in Australia. 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. Miller S 2007, ‘Chapter 4: Australian Pictorialism’ in, ‘Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection Handbook’, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney p 75
2. Newton G 1988, ‘Shades of Light: Photography and Australia 1839-1988’, Australian National Gallery, Canberra p 85
The artist's children
gelatin silver photograph
27.6 x 23.4 cm image/sheet
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Gift of the Cazneaux family 1985
Not on display
Shown in 1 exhibition
Harold Cazneaux, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 22 Dec 1989–11 Mar 1990
Referenced in 1 publication
Unknown, The Cazneaux Women, 'A way of life and a way of art 1900s-1920s', pg. 34-45, St Leonards, 2000, 42, 65 (illus.). plate no. 17