An image of Untitled (portrait of a man and three girls)

Glaister studio

(Australia 1855 – 1870)

Untitled (portrait of a man and three girls)

Location
Not on display
Further information

This charming ambrotype was thought to have been produced by one of Australia’s most important early photographers, Thomas Glaister, owning to the presence of the Glaister stamp on the case. However, superb varnish was one of Glaister’s hallmarks and this ambrotype is not varnished. In addition, the hand-colouring is not considered to be to Glaister’s standard. As such, it is possible that the ambrotype was inserted into this case at a later date, not least because there is no form of blackening behind the image. This was standard practice to prevent the viewer seeing through to the inside of the case. The Eichmeyer ‘book’ case, patented in 1855 by Henry A Eichmeyer of Philadelphia, were made of fine leather and beautifully put together. Glaister certainly used these but the ambrotype is probably not his specifically and could have been made by one of his sons in the 1860s when they worked as travelling photographers. Regardless of who took the image, it is a charming colonial portrait which in size is typical of the period – it can easily be held in the hand.

Ambrotypes were developed in the 1850s. They were faster and cheaper to make than daguerreotypes, yet were still unique objects.

1. 1989, ‘Masterpieces of Australian photography’, Josef Lebovic Gallery, Sydney p 25

© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007

Year
1855-1870
Media
Photograph
Medium
ambrotype, colour dyes
Dimensions
6.5 x 9.0 cm sight; 9.3 x 11.9 cm case
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Credit
Purchased 1989
Accession number
206.1989