We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Railway pier



Paul Foelsche

Germany, Australia

30 Mar 1831 – 31 Jan 1914

  • Details

    Media category
    Materials used
    albumen photograph
    13.8 x 20.2 cm image/sheet
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Gift of Josef & Jeanne Lebovic, Sydney 2014
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Paul Foelsche

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Paul Foelsche was a policeman and amateur photographer specialising in landscapes and anthropological images of the Larrakia people. Born near Hamburg, Germany, he immigrated to South Australia in 1856, where he joined the mounted police in Strathalbyn. In 1870 he was appointed sub-inspector in charge of the newly formed Northern Territory Mounted Police and moved to Palmerston (now Darwin), where he remained. Foelsche took up photography in the 1870s, when advances in the medium made it more accessible and affordable. Although he had no scientific training and took photographs part-time, his images were informed by theories of social Darwinism and supplied ethnologists and anthropologists with data, as well as promoting the Northern Territory as a place for European settlement. He printed all his photographs himself, but as a public servant it was not appropriate for him to sell his work. He did, however, send his photographs to international exhibitions and presented albums to friends and important visitors. As an amateur anthropologist, Foelsche wrote about the customs and lifestyles of the various Aboriginal groups, collected artefacts for the South Australian Museum and presented papers at the Royal Society of South Australia.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 2 exhibitions

Other works by Paul Foelsche

See all 22 works