An image of Silver and grey, Circular Quay

Harold Cazneaux

(New Zealand, Australia 30 Mar 1878 – 19 Jun 1953)

Silver and grey, Circular Quay

Not on display
Further information

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 1.
Silver and grey was first exhibited in 1909 when Cazneaux’s photographs formed a solo exhibition hosted by the Photographic Society of New South Wales. This exhibit was tremendously significant for Cazneaux’s career as it established him as an artist photographer and pre-eminent contributor to the nascent Australian pictorialist movement. Silver and grey includes a range of traditionally pictorialist subjects; clouds, water, smoke and steam were all common inclusions in pictorialist photography in Australia and internationally because of their light-permeable capacity. Cazneaux remarked that these elements in Silver and grey acted as ‘delicate graduations’ disrupting the fore, middle and background of his shot 2. Cazneaux’s pictures were an atmospheric celebrations of city life rather than exercises in photo-documentary.
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. Newton G 1988, ‘Shades of Light: Photography and Australia 1839-1988’, Australian National Gallery, Canberra p 85
2. Cazneaux H 1909, ‘Comments on the “One-Man” Show’, unpublished manuscript, MS8361, Folder 7, National Library of Australia, Canberra p 3

pre 1910
gelatin silver photograph on parchment paper
16.0 x 16.2 cm image/sheet
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Gift of the Cazneaux family 1979
Accession number