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Australian art


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Model at studio door, Springwood

circa 1920


Harold Cazneaux

New Zealand, Australia

30 Mar 1878 - 19 Jun 1953


Cazneaux was a frequent visitor to the Springwood home of Australian artist Norman Lindsay during the 1920s and 1930s. He was often commissioned to take portraits of the Lindsay family as well as of models who were the subjects of Lindsay’s art 1. One of Lindsay’s main creative tenets was that the body should be represented in a forthright manner: in a way which unabashedly animated the spirit of life 2. The subject of Cazneaux’s portrait stands almost front-on to the camera in the pillared archway of the studio entrance. Her body is adorned with oriental ornamentation. The sheer embroidered lace, draped around her middle, and her elaborate tasselled headpiece appear exotic and alluring in the bushland setting.
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 3. 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. Hill V 2000, ‘The Cazneaux Women’, Craftsman House, Sydney p 83-4
2. Crombie I 2004, ‘Body Culture: Max Dupain, Photography and Australian Culture, 1919-1939’, Peleus Press, Mulgrave p 163
3. Newton G 1988, ‘Shades of Light: Photography and Australia 1839-1988’, Australian National Gallery, Canberra p 85



circa 1920

Media category


Materials used

gelatin silver photograph


20.7 x 15.7 cm image/sheet

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Gift of the Cazneaux family 1975


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Harold Cazneaux

Works in the collection


Shown in 4 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 4 publications


Natasha Bullock, Harold Cazneaux: artist in photography, Sydney, 2008.

Robert McFarlane, Critic's Choice, Sydney, 1994, 5 (illus.), 9. no catalogue numbers

Alex Taylor, Perils of the studio: inside the artistic affairs of bohemian Melbourne, 'Model behaviour', pg.103-133, North Melbourne, 2007, 121, 122 (illus.). fig.107

Wayne Tunnicliffe, Bridled Passions, Sydney, 1996. no catalogue numbers