Exhibition: ‘Moriendo renascor: 19th century photography’ at the State Library of South Australia, Adelaide

Exhibition dates: 21st May – 31st July 2014




G.B. Goodman (English, ? – 1851)
Daguerreotype of a group of actors
c. 1850
Daguerreotype of a group of men, possibly actors associated with the Adelaide stage
135mm x 185mm (image); 23cm x 18cm x 2.5cm (case)
B 46371



South Australian photography in the 19th century – daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, glass plates and photographic equipment. A fascinating look at our visual past. Moriendo renascor is a latin phrase meaning In death I am reborn. The exhibition runs at the State Library of South Australia till the end of July.


Many thankx to the State Library of South Australia for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.



In January 1846, travelling daguerreotype photographer, G.B. Goodman took up a 40 day residency at the rear of Adelaide auctioneer, Emanuel Solomon’s home. Here he created 50 daguerreotype images for Adelaide patrons (Register 21 January 1846). At this time, it had become increasingly common to set up temporary studios at the rear of a building.

According to Jane Messenger in A century in focus: South Australian photography, 1840s-1940s, this daguerreotype differs from others of the period due to its informal nature and the way it flaunts contemporary social and pictorial conventions. Portraits of multiple figures were unusual at the time and usually reserved for family groups. This was due to technical complications related to focal distance, plate sizes and exposure times. Messenger suggests that this image is largely experimental in its composition, and is designed to reveal the photographers sophisticated image creation skills (p. 30). It is also suggested that the man second from right is George Selth Coppin – the father of Australian theatre who lived in Adelaide from 1846 to the end of 1851.

Developed in 1839 by Louis-Jacques-Mande Daguerre and given to the world by the French government, the Daguerreotype was the first photographic method of capturing a scene or a likeness. Despite the difficulty and expense of the Daguerreotype, the process spread rapidly around the world, being first demonstrated in Sydney in 1842 and Adelaide in 1845.




Captain Samuel White Sweet (Australian born England, 1825-1886)
Planting the first pole of the Overland telegraph at Darwin on the 15th September, 1870
From glass plate negative
B 4638


John W. Butler (publisher) 'Advertisement for Townsend Duryea's studios' Photographic Gallery of Townsend Duryea, south-east corner of Grenfell Street and King William Street National directory of South Australia for 1867-68 1867


John W. Butler (publisher)
Advertisement for Townsend Duryea’s studios
Photographic Gallery of Townsend Duryea, south-east corner of Grenfell Street and King William Street National directory of South Australia for 1867-68
Created in Melbourne
Object Source: The national directory of South Australia for 1867-68: including a squatters’ directory also a new and correct map of the Colony



In 1867 Townsend Duryea had his photographic gallery on the south-east corner of Grenfell Street and King William Street.

Born in 1823, New Yorker, Townsend Duryea, arrived in South Australia in 1855 and set up a studio on the corner of Grenfell Street and King William Street. He and his brother Sanford were the first photographers known to have worked outside of Adelaide. In a disaster for both the photographer and South Australia his studio caught fire in the early hours of 18 April 1875. Duryea’s entire collection of 60,000 negatives was destroyed.

The Register, reporting on the investigation into the cause of the fire wrote:

“Mr. J. M. Solomon, J.P., on Monday, April 19, held an investigation into the cause of the fire. As the Coroner remarked in summing up, the matter is involved in mystery, and it is just possible that the fire might have resulted from the spontaneous combustion of chemicals used by Mr. Duryea in the prosecution of his business. During the course of the proceedings the Coroner several times checked spectators eager to put questions to witnesses, and stated his view of their position. The Jury returned the following verdict:- “That the premises of Townsend Duryea were destroyed by fire, but that there is not sufficient evidence to show what was its origin.”

South Australian Register April 1875, p. 5.

After the fire he moved to New South Wales where he died in 1888.


Photographer unknown. 'Henry Ayers' c. 1848


Photographer unknown
Henry Ayers
c. 1848
PRG 67/48



The oldest known photograph in the State Library’s collection.

This example shows former South Australian Premier Henry Ayers, approximately ten years before he entered parliament. Born in England in 1821, he arrived in South Australia in 1840. He was elected to the first Legislative Council in 1857 and held several positions including chief secretary, premier, and president of the council during his 36 years as a member of parliament. Ayers died on 11 June 1897. Sir Henry Ayers was Premier of South Australia five times between the years 1863 and 1873.

This portrait was accompanied by a note signed by Ayers. It explained that the photo was taken a few years after his appointment as Secretary of the Burra Burra mines in 1845: This was taken by a travelling Artist at the Burra sometime in 1847 or 1848 when I was 26 or 27 years old. It was greatly esteemed by my Dear Wife as a capital likeness of H.A.

The daguerreotype is part of a collection of papers of Sir Henry Ayers, former Premier of South Australia, and of his granddaughter, Lucy Lockett Ayers.


Hammer and Co. 'Bust of a young woman' Rundle Street, c. 1895


Hammer and Co.
Bust of a young woman
Rundle Street, c. 1895
Albumen photograph, cabinet card


Saul Solomon, photographer. 'Man dressed as Robinson Crusoe' 1888


Saul Solomon (Australian born England, 1836-1929)
Published by the Adelaide School of Photography
Man dressed as Robinson Crusoe
Albumen photograph, cabinet card
99mm x 146mm
B 32878



On Monday 30 July 1888 a carnival was held at the Columbia Roller Skating Rink in the Jubilee Exhibition Building, North Terrace, Adelaide. The South Australia Weekly Chronicle, 4 August 1888, reported that over 2,000 persons attended and the floor was reserved for ladies and gentlemen in fancy costume or evening dress and that among the most successful gentlemen’s costumes was a “Robinson Crusoe with a gun and umbrella”.

Cabinet cards were a popular form of family photograph. They often featured the photographer’s details on the front and further description of their services on the reverse.


Photographer unknown. 'Leslie Quinn and W. Dunk' c. 1890


Photographer unknown
Leslie Quinn and W. Dunk
c. 1890
B 47091



I just love how the jacket of the lad on the right is about two sizes too small for him. As though he is growing so fast into adulthood, his arms elongating so quickly, that he has outrun the life of his jacket.


Photographer unknown. 'Leslie Quinn and W. Dunk' (detail) c. 1890


Photographer unknown
Leslie Quinn and W. Dunk (detail)
c. 1890
B 47091


Unknown photographer. 'Tom Thumb' c. 1880


Unknown photographer
Tom Thumb
c. 1880
From a glass plate negative



Michael Pynn was born at Baker’s Flat in 1860. In his obituary, the Kapunda Herald (July 5 1929, p. 2), reported that Mickey was known from the late 1870s as the Australian Tom Thumb.

“It was toward the late seventies that General Tom Thumb, of England, visited Australia, and the tour of his little company included Kapunda. It was this circumstance that brought Micky Pynn into prominence, and later into almost world-wide notoriety. He made a career as a circus clown and travelled the world.”

Michael Pynn died in Sydney on 22 June 1929.


Frederick Charles Krichauff, 1861-1954, photographer. 'From the Adelaide Town Hall' c. 1880


Frederick Charles Krichauff (Australian, 1861-1954)
From the Adelaide Town Hall
c. 1880



View of the General Post Office (GPO) from the Albert Tower of the Adelaide Town Hall, showing Victoria Square with horse drawn cabs, and the GPO clock showing 1.23 pm.

The State Library holds many thousands of glass plate negatives including a number by amateur photographer Frederick Krichauff (1861-1954). We also hold three of his photograph albums and these may be viewed online via the Library’s catalogue. Krichauff was an architect and a keen member of the Royal Philatelic Society. He lived at Portrush Road, Toorak Gardens.



State Library of South Australia
Kintore Ave, Adelaide SA 5000
Phone: (08) 8207 7250

State Library of South Australia website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

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