Untitled (The Sydney Harbour Bridge in construction: Milson's Point roadway)
1884 - 1967
Henri Marie Joseph Mallard was born to French immigrant parents in Sydney. In 1900 he began working for Harrington’s photographic suppliers and eventually spent his entire working-life there, moving up from junior office boy to general manager. There he became a mentor to local photographers and was remembered for his generosity and good nature. He began exhibiting his own photographic work from 1904. He also took an early interest in film and coached Frank Hurley on the medium before Hurley went to the Antarctic. Mallard himself filmed the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. He retired from Harrington’s in 1951.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened on 19 March 1932. Max Dupain thought the construction of the bridge marked the end of Australian pictorialism: ‘then, dramatically, this arty pictorial approach changed … Australian photographers had begun to apprehend machine form and function and to relate it not as a first or second cousin, but as a blood brother to the camera.’1 This was an exaggeration: the bridge as a subject was amenable to romantic, pictorialist interpretations as well as modernist ones. Mallard, one of the most comprehensive documenters of the bridge in both photography and cinematography, used both languages. Some of his photographs are sharp and modern in feel, based on the dramatic geometry of the steel structure. This one, however, with its fine tonal range and panoramic vista is more recognisably pictorialist. It is an early photograph from his series documenting the bridge in construction and shows the recently built bridge approaches.
1. Dupain M & Tanner H 1976, ‘Building the Sydney Harbour Bridge: the photography of Henri Mallard’, Sun Books, Melbourne p 6
© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007
gelatin silver photograph
16.7 x 23.0 cm image; 20.3 x 25.3 cm sheet
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Gift of Paul Mallard 1977
Not on display
Shown in 5 exhibitions
Souvenirs of Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 14 Mar 1992–10 May 1992
Art Deco: from Sydney cinemas and pubs to skyscrapers, Museum of Sydney, Sydney, 12 Jun 1999–05 Sep 1999
My city of Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 02 Sep 2000–22 Oct 2000
Bridging Sydney, Museum of Sydney, Sydney, 16 Dec 2006–29 Apr 2007
Sydney Moderns, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 06 Jul 2013–07 Oct 2013
Referenced in 4 publications
Steven Miller, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Australian pictorialism', pg.71-91, Sydney, 2007, 74 (illus.), 88 (illus.).
Deborah Edwards and Denise Mimmocchi (Editors), Sydney moderns: art for a new world, 'List of works', pg. 310-317, Sydney, 2013, 314, 322.
Caroline Mackaness, Bridging Sydney, Sydney, 2006, frontispiece (illus.).
Unknown, My city of Sydney, Sydney, 2000. no pagination or catalogue numbers