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William Cawston


circa 1820 – 1891

  • Details

    Media category
    Materials used
    carte de visite
    6.0 x 9.2 cm image; 6.3 x 10.2 cm mount card
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Purchased 2014
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    William Cawston

    Works in the collection


  • About

    William Cawston was a professional photographer, gilder and framer. He was transported to Australia on a seven-year sentence in 1845 and in 1856 opened a business in Launceston, Tasmania, as a picture frame maker. By 1862 he had a photographic studio, which continued to operate in Launceston until 1888, when it became Cawston & Sons. Cawston continued to work as a studio photographer until 1891, producing portraits and views of Launceston.

    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.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition