Friday, July 30, 2010

Nevin's photos of prisoners Sutherland and Stock with death warrant

From the David Scott Mitchell Collection, 1907 ...
Photography © KLW NFC 2009 ARR.

Nevin carte of James Sutherland

Above: Detail of Nevin's carte of condemned prisoner James Sutherland with the blue hand-tinted scarf intended to reflect reality, one of several extant hand-tinted prisoner mugshots by Nevin. The eyes too are tinted for added expression. This photograph was taken only a few days before Sutherland's execution in June 1883 at the Hobart Gaol.

This is one of two cartes pasted into the second of two volumes titled Death Warrants V.D.L. compiled and bequested to the State Library of NSW by David Scott Mitchell in 1907. The other carte, pictured below, also by Nevin, is a booking photograph of wife murderer Henry Stock, who was executed in 1884. At the time of his arrest, Henry Stock was photographed still wearing his fine clothes.

Nevin's booking photo of Henry Stock 1884

Above: Henry Stock, carte by Nevin taken at the Hobart Gaol on Stock's arrest for murder of his wife, 1884, pasted on a single page facing the original of his death warrant.

Mitchell Library Tasmania Supreme Court death warrants 1883-4

Death warrant Tasmania for James Sutherland

Above and below: the carte on a single page facing the death warrant on the next page.

Click on all images for readable version

Mitchell Library CATALOGUE Notes:

Creator Tasmania. Supreme Court
Tasmania. Supreme Court - Death warrants and related papers, 1818-1884Level of Description Collection
Date of Work
1818 - 1884
Type of Material Textual Records
Call Number
C 202 - C 203
Issue Copy Microfilm - CY 1341, frames 001 - 298 (C 202: 1818 - 1855).
Microfilm - CY 1341, frames 299 - 645 (C 203: 1827 - 1884).
Physical Description 2 volumes - 0.12 Meters
Textual Records
1818-1884; Death warrants for the execution of prisoners in Tasmania; with related papers including receipts for bodies received at hospitals, orders for sentences to be commuted to penal servitude for life, and for transportation to Macquarie Harbour. There are two photographs in volume 2 (C 203) which may be of James Sutherland in 1883 and Henry Stock in 1884. (Call No.: ML C 202 - C 203)
The warrants and papers are not in chronological order within the two volumes; volume 1 contains documents dated between 1818-1855 and volume 2 beween 1827-1884.
Mitchell Bequest, 1907
General Note
D.S. Mitchell signature in both volumes
Subject Capital punishment - - Tasmania.
David Scott Mitchell Collection.
Warrants (Law) - - Tasmania.
Place Tasmania
Exhibited in On the Run. Daring Convict Escapes
Digital order no.

The Death Warrant

TRANSCRIPT of death warrant for James Sutherland:

To the SHERIFF of Tasmania and to the Keeper of her Majesty's Gaol at Hobarton jointly and severally.

Whereas at a Session of Oyer and Terminer and General Gaol Delivery of the Supreme Court of Tasmania holden at Hobart in Tasmania aforesaid on Tuesday the fifteenth day of May James Sutherland was convicted before the
[blank] of the murder of William Wilson and thereupon for that Offence received Sentence to be hanged by the neck until he should be dead - NOW IT IS ORDERED that execution of the said Sentence be accordingly made and done upon the said James Sutherland on Monday the fourth day of June at the Usual Hour and Place of Execution and that his body when dead be buried privately by the Sheriff -

Given under my Hand and Seal at - Hobart in Tasmania aforesaid this twenty third day of May in the year of Our Lord One thousand eight hundred and eighty three.

Francis Smith
[JP initial, Justice of Peace]

The black seal attached of the Supreme Court of Tasmania with the Royal Arms insignia of lion and unicorn rampant also appears on Nevin's government stamp on the verso of several prisoner photographs.

For more detail on Sutherland's crime, see this article on this site: Execution of Sutherland and Ogden

Another carte of James Sutherland is held at the National Library of Australia. This one (below) was probably the earlier booking photograph, taken immediately after Sutherland's arrest. Booking photographs often show the prisoner in a liminal state between the outside society and the prison.

Verso of the carte held at the National Library of Australia of Tasmania prisoner James Sutherland, dated 29.5.83. Copy courtesy of the NLA 1996.

This carte of James Sutherland is dated verso the 29th May, 1883, seven days before his execution on 4th June, 1883 at the Hobart Gaol, also called the Campbell Street Gaol [CSG]. His liminal state is evident here: the luxury of a pipe, and the frank, challenging stare.

There are several cartes in the National Library of Australia's holdings of Thomas J. Nevin's photographs of prisoners dated 1883-1884. The verso accurately dates the photograph, placing Thomas Nevin at the Hobart Gaol together with his brother Jack (William John) Nevin who was employed there - resident and armed - on a H.M. Prisons salary under keeper Ringrose Atkins and Sheriff John Swan. Jack Nevin may have been the principal photographer by the time of these executions, indicated by the 1884 Electoral Roll for North Hobart. See this entry on this site.
The hangman was Philip Samuel Seager [possible mispelling]. Below is John Swan's official notice deputising his hangman for the execution of Henry Stock:

Death warrant certification for Henry Stock 1884

From Death Warrants V.D.L. Tasmania Supreme Court. Mitchell Library C203.

John Swan Sheriff confirmation of Sutherland's hanging.

Above: Justice Sir Francis Smith and the Deputy Sheriff's confirmation of Sutherland's execution. From Death Warrants V.D.L. Tasmania Supreme Court. Mitchell Library C203

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Warwick Reeder: in search of an "author"

Warwick Reeder's thesis The Democratic Image (ANU 1995) strongly promotes the non-photographer A.H. Boyd as THE photographer of Tasmanian prisoners' photographs held in public institutions.

Above: recto and verso of vignette by Nevin of prisoner Thomas Fleming, taken in January 1874 at the Hobart Gaol on his discharge. This vignette and the print are held at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston Tasmania. Click on the print below.

Thomas Fleming per St Vincent was tried at the Supreme Court on 9 Sept 1867 for housebreaking and larceny, sentenced to seven years. He was born in Yorkshire , aged 38 yrs, 5ft 6ins, black hair, Free in Servitude. Two moles on left cheek. He was discharged from the Hobart Gaol on 7 January 1874, and photographed on discharge by police photographer Thomas J. Nevin. There was no photographer by the name of A. H. Boyd in Tasmania. Boyd was briefly a Commandant at the Port Arthur prison (1871-73). He had nothing to do with the police mugshots taken by Nevin for the colonial government's Attorney-General's Dept.


Reeder's use of these Tasmanian prisoner mugshots is through the gaze of the fine art dealer. Inevitably, he sees the extant examples as an "artist's" personalised portfolio, even using the literary term "author" to mask the subjective preoccupation with "artist". Had he started with the vocational term "police photographer" his focus would not have veered from Nevin.

  • wrong biographical data on Nevin's family and career;
  • citations and quotations from unread sources, such as Margaret Glover's article (1979) which does NOT mention the unpublished children's fiction by E.M. Hall (1930/;1942)
  • Hall's fiction in turn does NOT mention, A.H. Boyd, nor prisoner photography, nor a "darkroom" although Chris Long does, turning "room" from E.M. Hall's story into a "darkroom" , Reeder's source for this fantasy, (TMAG 1995:82)
  • unseen description and reference to the so-called ONE photograph at the Mitchell, SLNSW, supposedly by Boyd which is unattributed, dated 1894, and not a photograph of a prisoner; this photograph of a building - not a man in prisoner clothing - is supposed to represent evidence of A.H. Boyd's relationship to photography.
  • the assumption that a cargo of negative plates supposedly arriving at Port Arthur in 1873 were for the personal use of its Commandant A.H. Boyd, and that the same plates were used for the same prisoners whose mugshots survive, when in fact the extant examples are random estrays from a corpus of 3500 taken by the Nevin brothers.
  • repeated reference to the Assistant Colonial Secretary's Travers Solly's requests for prisoner photographers. If the document ever existed, the request was for Nevin's photographs taken at the Hobart Gaol AFTER the date of prisoners' transfer from Port Arthur, NOT BEFORE transfer, eg the cited examples of the Gregson brothers, who absconded from Hobart and not Port Arthur,  were photographed at the Police Office Hobart on February 18th 1874 after arrival from Launceston when arrested (see TAHO: CON37-1-1000498 and 9).
  • no understanding of police practices or prisoner documentation and relevant legislation by 1873, and no reference to the police records of the "convicts" who were just ordinary criminals, habitual re-offenders when photographed - not at the Port Arthur prison - but by Nevin at the Hobart Gaol, in the city's courts, and at the central Town Hall police office.
  • etc etc
His statement that Chris Long was the originator of the "belief" about A.H. Boyd, however, is correct and the most important statement made by Reeder in these few pages.

Although Reeder's thesis is now 15 years old, these errors are still being circulated as currency in publications written by his supporters (e.g. Clark, JACHS 2010), so in a sense, Reeder has found the sort of "author" he was hoping would arise from the oblivion of his thesis. It's unfortunate for his own reputation that he has to encourage acolytes to maintain the non-photographer A.H. Boyd as central to the "mystery" of the "author" of these prisoner photographs when the facts about Nevin's work have always been so readily available. That Reeder is a valuer for the National Library of Australia explains in no small part who is responsible for their holdings of 84 "Portraits, Port Arthur convicts 1874" suddenly catalogued with a photographic attribution to A. H. Boyd in 2007.  It's a cover-up of an error made by Reeder in his poorly researched Masters thesis, a cover-up which puts into question his credibility as a fine arts dealer.


Reeder, page 68:
Reeder, Warwick (ANU thesis 1995), page 68. There is a deception here: the prisoners were photographed AFTER arrival at Hobart, and not en masse at Port Arthur; although Nevin attended the site during 1873 and 1874 on police business, he worked at the Hobart Gaol where these men were photographed, if a second offender sentenced for 3 months or longer and at the Town Hall police central registry where he photographed men discharged and released, all with various conditions (FS,TOL,CP etc).

Reeder, page 69:
Reeder, Warwick (ANU thesis 1995), page 69. Reeder cites Glover (1979) who does NOT cite E.M. Hall’s children’s fiction about Port Arthur (1930/1942) which does NOT mention prisoner photography, obviously having read neither. Details about Nevin are incorrect: his seventh and sixth child to survive was born in 1888. Nevin was the police and prisons photographer in the 1870s-80s (with his brother), his Royal Arms stamp showing joint copyright with the government was used under tender (one photograph stamped per batch of 100) until he gained full-time civil service at the Town Hall in 1876, and he was still working as a City and Supreme Courts bailiff serving warrants and taking offenders’ photographs in 1886. There is no “mystery” about the “author” of the prisoner mugshots, just poor research as Reeder musters the cliched art historian’s essentialist notion of “artistic” creativity.

Reeder, page 70:
Reeder, Warwick (ANU thesis 1995), page 70. ERROR: There is information about Milner at the State Library Tas. FACTS: Chris Long was indeed the originator of this fantasy about Boyd (ca. 1984, published 1995). Reeder doesn’t understand that the men photographed as prisoners were in and out of prison on TOL and probation from the end of their first sentence in England prior to 1853 – usually 7 to 14 years. They were photographed only as RE-OFFENDERS – and many had long criminal careers – for the police in Hobart by Nevin, as offenders are today, and for no other reason.

Reeder, page 71:
Reeder, Warwick (ANU thesis 1995), page 71. The extensive copying and numbering of the QVMAG collection bears no weight to his argument about either Boyd or Nevin (Reeder was a museum employee, hence the fascination). None of the numbers are police or prison registration numbers: they are accessioning file numbers by museum and library archivists in the 20th century. The inscription “Taken at Port Arthur 1874″ on some of the versos is a curatorial assumption, not a fact. It is based on the shipping record of the first carte to be copied, George Nutt, which details various offenses at Port Arthur, and not on the Hobart registry of police records in 1875 for which the real photograph was taken by Nevin.

Reeder, page 72:
Reeder, Warwick (ANU thesis 1995), page 72: this is where Reeder creates an artist photographer of Boyd, and the real photographer, Nevin, as just a copyist. He also assumes he has broken the numbering code, without reference to any actual criminal register or police gazette of the day. Note the pathos mustered around Boyd’s untimely death: what Reeder fails to document is that Boyd was much despised in his day, and that no authentic public records associate him with making prisoner photographs. Reeder’s logic goes something like this: Very Important Person requests his Subordinate one chain down in rank for a photograph of a lowly criminal in his care, therefore the Subordinate is the “author”: applying the analogy would be akin to saying that the Governor General requested from the NSW Premier a photograph of a known criminal in prison, therefore the NSW Premier was the “author” of the photograph, etc etc. It’s a managerial delusion about POWER that knowingly confuses ownership with authorship

Reeder, page 73:
Reeder, Warwick (ANU thesis 1995), page 73: there is no understanding here that thousands of prisoners’ photographs were in circulation in the 1870s, and that the extant 300 are just central police office estrays, not some ethnographic portfolio of an amateur as Boyd (a non-photographer) is constructed who kept an archive

Reeder, page 74:
Reeder, Warwick (ANU thesis 1995), page 74: here lies reasons for the creation of Boyd as an “artist”: the homosocial identification of Reeder with Boyd is all about managerial POWER. It is subjective wishful thinking about the writer’s self projected onto his subject, with the concomitant dejection of the REAL artist/photographer Nevin (of course).

Reeder, footnotes, page 108:
Reeder, Warwick (ANU thesis 1995), footnotes 51-64, page 108: the ONE photograph at the SLNSW is unattributed, dated 1894, and not a photograph of a prisoner. It is NOT attributed to Boyd, it has been doctored with a pencilled note to give him an attribution of ONE photo!

Reeder, footnotes, page 109:
Reeder, Warwick (ANU thesis 1995), footnotes 65-79, page 109: Glover’s article does not cite the fictional tale by E.M. Hall (1942) which was not a factual reminiscence. Nevin’s stamp also appears on prisoner mugshots at the SLNSW: why does Nevin have to be “author’? Why not just “police photographer”? Because this writer Reeder is an ART historian.

Print from a lantern slide reproduction of Nevin’s original glass negative, taken on 7th January 1874 at the Police office Hobart on the discharge of the prisoner Thomas Fleming (Police Gazette), referred to by Reeder on page 71. This print was probably prepared at the QVMAG from John Watt Beattie’s lantern slide, reproduced in the 1900s from Nevin’s original glass negative. Beattie used the lantern slides for public lectures on Tasmanian history. The QVMAG reproduced it recently for online viewing using
Camera: Canon
Model: Canon EOS-1D Mark II
File: 1985_p_0169

For further discussion, see this article:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Aliases, Copies and Misattribution


... numbered copies ... 1.2,3, ...

George White as Nutt, George Nutt alias White ...

Above: The database image of George NUTT with verso at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery: note that the verso is inscribed with the conventional date of Nevin's photographic registration (1874), the alias, and the ship on which Nutt was originally transported before 1853, but the transcription which appears on many other versos of convicts' cartes - "Taken at Port Arthur" - is absent. Nevin may have photographed Nutt at Port Arthur prison between 23rd February and 8th May 1874; the former date being another sentence for Nutt for breaking the cell while trying to escape, the latter being one of the dates on which Nevin attended the penal site on police business with prisoner Job Smith whom he had photographed with the alias William Campbell (see details of Nutt's serial offenses on the large Fairlie ship transportation record below.)

The transcriber of the notes on the verso of the carte has collated the prisoner's record with the photograph, and assumed the date "1874" was the date of Nevin's photograph. Nevin would have taken another photograph of Nutt in any event as a re-offender in 1875 when Nutt was arrested for absconding, and this is the image.

Webshot AOT of Thomas Nevin's carte of George Nutt alias White 1875
Click on image for large view


The vignette of convict George Nutt alias White, which is also online at the Archives Office of Tasmania was taken by Thomas Nevin soon after Nutt was arrested on September 3rd, 1875. Nutt escaped while under sentence on 24th August, 1875 from the Port Arthur settlement, and was considered desperate enough that a reward was offered which was posted in the weekly police gazettes (Tasmania Reports on Crime for Police Information 1875) during the fortnight of the convict's freedom.

Above: The notice in the gazette on 27th August, 1875.

Some details about his height were amended in the following week's description for police information:

The notice appeared again on the eve of Nutt's capture:

And the notice of his arrest appeared in the same issue, September 3rd, 1875.

Sources: Tasmania Reports on Crime for Police Information 1875.
James Barnard, Govt printer.


Thomas Nevin was able to recognize and describe George Nutt from their common experience as passengers travelling to Australia on board the Fairlie, which arrived in Hobart on July 3rd, 1852. Thomas Nevin was still a child in 1852, the ten year old son of a Fairlie guard, John Nevin, accompanying his mother Mary and three siblings, William John (Jack) , Rebecca and Mary Ann. George Nutt was a Parkhurst boy, a transported exile from the prison of the Isle of Wight. He would have been about 18 years old in 1852, if he was 42 years old when he fled the Port Arthur prison in 1875.

Click on image for readable view

Above: Nutt's convict record at AOT
Ref: CON33-1-107_00197_L

Unlike many of these transportation records, this one contains some information of Nutt's work record and serial criminal offenses upto his discharge in 1884.


The Archives Office of Tasmania & the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery copies of this prisoner's vignette both bear the number "1" on the mount, recto. An ink stain of a square stamp partially covering the convict's face is evident on this one, the AOT copy.

AOT: PH30/1/3222
Caption by AOT: Possibly George White alias Nutt convict transported per Fairlie 1852
Photo taken at Port Arthur by Thomas Nevin 1874

Archives Office of Tasmania photographic database:
Title: George White
Subject: convicts, people, portraits
Locality: not identified
Date: 1874

Archives Office of Tasmania Convicts' names database:
Database number:81329 Name: White, George
Arrived: 03 Jul 1852 Fairlie
Departed: 11 Mar 1852 Plymouth
Transported as George Nutt

The AOT has used Nutt's ship transportation record with details of his incarceration in 1870-71 at the Separate Model Prison Port Arthur where he was originally documented George White as Nut [sic] -

White as Nutt in Separate Prison July 1870

White as Nutt Separate Prison April 1871

George White as Nutt,
Separate Model Prison 1870-1
Mitchell Library, SLNSW
Photos © KLW NFC 2009 ARR

- but the police documented his escape as Nutt alias White. According to information detailing the Parkhurst Boys at Convict Central, a 13 year old boy called George Nutt was convicted of larceny on 15th May 1848, sentenced for 7yrs and transported on the Fairlie departing Plymouth on March 2nd, 1852, arriving in Tasmania on July 3rd, 1852. The ship transportation record (above) confirms these details, although his age by 1852 was given as 19 yrs. He was listed as a tailor or shoemaker. George Nutt would have been born ca 1834 if aged 13 at the time of conviction in 1848, and would have been around 42 in late 1875. The photograph by Nevin shows a man of that age.


Nevin took the one surviving image of Nutt as a police photograph at the Hobart Gaol where Nutt was incarcerated after arrest in 1875. The vignette was printed from the glass negative, as a standard police identification carte of the period, and pasted to Nutt's criminal record sheet. The number "1" on the mount may be Nevin's numbering, or one used by the police, and there would have existed at least two more duplicates circulated to police, but more likely it has been numbered by museum archivists on accession. Another indication on this carte that it was the first photograph in an album copied as a series at the QVM in 1958 is the ink impress left by the square QVM stamp across George Nutt's left cheek and collar from the verso of the second carte in the series in 1958 which was placed on top of it, that of convict carte No.2, Nevin's vignette  of Wm Yeomans.

For this reason, the square stamp ink is visible in the AOT image, but not in the QVMAG image, although identical in all other respects, which points to multiple copies made by the QVMAG archivist (in Launceston) for circulation to the AOT office and in some cases, to the TMAG in 1987 (in Hobart). The original from which 20th century copies were made may be the one held at the QVMAG but not necessarily the only duplicate which was first made by Nevin from his glass negative and used in criminal registers.

For example, there are three extant copies of the photograph taken once and once only by Nevin of prisoner William Yeomans: one at the QVMAG, one at the AOT, both numbered "2" on the front, and a third which is held at the National Library of Australia with no numbering on the front, rather, it is numbered "57" on the verso, testifying to further copying from a single original glass negative either by Nevin for the prison authorities' immediate use, or by later archivists again. The NLA copy of the Yeomans carte is an archival estray donated there by Dr Neil Gunson in 1962 and accessioned in Nevin's name.

NLA Catalogue notes:
Part of collection: Convict portraits, Port Arthur, 1874.; Gunson Collection file 203/7/54.; Title from inscription on reverse.; Inscription: "No 57"--On reverse.

Photograph of convict William Yeomans by Nevin at the QVMAG and AOT.

The recto on Yeomans' carte is numbered "2' and its verso was most likely placed on top of the front of Nutt's carte when the QVMAG archivist was in the process of copying them in 1958. The catalogue number for the job in 1958 was 1958:78:22, accompanied by the QVM stamp with more numbers.

The original transcription of the convict's name and ship and the date 1874 was added much earlier, probably ca. 1900-1927, given the calligraphic style. The most recent inscriptions by archivists date from 1985; e.g. QVM1985:P69, and are in a childish hand. Again, there is NO statement on this verso that the photograph was taken at Port Arthur, the probable explanation being that these first few cartes were transcribed verso and copied by one person, and the remainder at a later date by another. The third prisoner carte in the series, that of Bewley Tuck, with the number "3" on recto, similarly lacks the statement "Taken at Port Arthur":


Cataloguists, librarians, archivists, students, photo historians and others in public service have made a real mess of storing and recording the accession history, numbering, and data collation on these Tasmanian prisoners' identification photos: obliteration, reinvention, fads, guesses, fashions, and personal agendas have managed to obliterate valuable data and thus the traces of facts from their past.

George Nutt's ID photograph is one example. It was one of more than 70 exhibited at the Queen Victoria and Museum Gallery in 1977, with correct attribution to Thomas Nevin from the Beattie collection. But by 1984 a researcher on a very tiny budget, Chris Long, who had the job of putting together an A-Z directory of Tasmanian photographers (published in 1995) for the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in Hobart, indulged a speculation that photographic supplies supposedly sent to Port Arthur in August 1873 were used personally by the Civil Commandant to photograph the prison's inmates (letter to Nevin descendants 1984, letter to the authors Davies and Stanbury, The Mechanical Eye 1985). The Civil Commandant from 1871 to December 1873 was A.H. Boyd, with no reputation in his lifetime as a photographer, no history of training or skills, and no extant works. No police or official documentation associates his name with prisoner photographic records and there has never surfaced any authentic evidence to support this "idea" or "belief", but because of the self-referential world of art history, photo historians such as Ennis, Crombie and Reeder have credited Chris Long and used his "idea" as a possible attribution, extending to the present as a "likely" attribution by the sycophantic Clark who has influenced the NLA's current revision of Nevin's attribution. Under the influence of the QVMAG employee Elspeth Wishart,now at the TMAG and her former colleague at the TMAG, Julia Clark, the NLA has recently been co-opted  to apply the misattribution to Boyd of their 84 "convict portraits", further effectively suppressing Nevin's former sole attribution, for no reason other than to attempt to mask their collective foolishness in believing Chris Long's idle speculations (1984,1995). Their doggedness is tantamount to professional fraud.

This simple fallacy of judgment by Long and his unquestioning cohort has misled commentators, and more significantly, librarians and museum cataloguists into suppressing Nevin's attribution, foregrounding the name A.H. Boyd, ignoring the circumstances and contexts of police practices, and labelling the ID photos as "portraits" - aesthetic objects, in other words. Chris Long expressed regret at the confusion he caused (acknowledged 2005, email to these weblogs), but the misattribution in public institutions is still evident in their catalogues. George White aka Nutt's carte has gone from this record:

Archives Office of Tasmania (and current at June 2010)
Carte no. 1
Title: George White
Subject: convicts, people, portraits Locality: not identified
Date: 1874  Possibly George White (alias Nutt) convict transported per Fairlie.

Photo taken at Port Arthur by Thomas Nevin

and this original record at the QVMAG (prior to 1985)
Nevin, Thomas J. 1874
QVMAG carte no. 1
George White, alias Nutt

to this now at the QVMAG from 1985 (until 2009) when Elspeth Wishart re-catalogued all these convict photographs for an Exhibition purely because of Long's idle and groundless hypothesis:

QVMAG from 1985-2009
Registration Number: QVM: 1985:P :0070
Type: carte de visite
Producer/Photographer: Boyd, Adolarious Humphrey
Content: Portrait of George White alias Nutt at Port Arthur, Tasmania, 1874.

Notice that the data about ship, date of transportation, and former catalogue numbers are all gone, and the aesthetic term "portrait" has subsumed the documentary facts. When asked why the QVMAG had obliterated Nevin's attribution, which was correctly assigned in 1977 by the same institution, the QVMAG, their reply was simply - "because of comments made by Chris Long, " without so much as a backwards glance at their own curatorial history (letter from Community History Technical Officer - see this article: The QVMAG, Chris Long and A. H. Boyd.)


The QVMAG has now brought online most (but not all) of their database holdings of these convict photographs, with a revised catalogue entry for Nutt (below). The first cataloguing of these photographs by the QVM was in 1958, evidenced by the stamp on versos, and the second database dates from 1985. A new database collation needs to be performed, going back to the original cartes and glass negatives to include the criminal records sheets with cartes attached, mentioned by Nevin's curator for the 1977 QVMAG exhibition, John McPhee, in correspondence with the Specialist Librarian G.T. Stilwell. Full color online images would also be appreciated; the current practice of displaying only  the b & w version is now a passe precaution.

Purely because of one idle comment by Chris Long that forced and foisted onto the Commandant A.H. Boyd an  association as the photographer of these "convict portraits" (i.e. police mugshots), the former employee at the QVMAG and now an historian at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Elspeth Wishart, has pushed onto the public the Boyd misattribution, both at the TMAG and per this entry online at the QVMAG website. A.H. Boyd has no entry in the mammoth publication, Dictionary of Australian Artists to 1870 (ed. Joan Kerr 1992), while Nevin does, complete with attribution as the photographer of these convict images (p.568), yet Boyd has an entry as THE photographer of these prisoner cartes in the DAA online version, probably because Wishart and Clark were actively involved as the contributors who authored the fatuously illogical comment -"not surprising given his job as penal officer".

The entire misattribution problem has its genesis in a belief that a single sentence in an unpublished children's fictional tale about a holiday at Port Arthur, written in 1930 by a niece of A.H. Boyd, E.M. Hall, called "The Young Explorer" (SLTAS) which does NOT mention Boyd by name NOR does it refer to the photographing of prisoners at the Port Arthur prison, can be taken as FACT (an artful wish from Wishart!). Elspeth Wishart and her former colleague at the TMAG, Julia Clark, are determined to promulgate the A.H. Boyd misattribution with appeals to impressionable staff at the National Library of Australia and other public institutions, not to mention the editors of academic journals (Clark, JACHS 2010) purely to mask their own gullibility in placing all their faith in Chris Long's assumption that a single sentence from children's fiction can function as historical fact. For further discussion on this issue see these articles:

Mitchell Library, SLNSW
Photos © KLW NFC 2009 ARR

Monday, July 5, 2010

Prisoner Phillip AYLWARD


QVMAG Collection
Ref: 1985:P129


Aylward was convicted at the Supreme Court Hobart and photographed by Nevin there on 13 February 1872.

Aylward discharged from the Hobart Gaol, photographed again by Nevin on 18th February 1874.

Aylward was discharged from Cascades as pauper 23 October 1874.

"Tea and sugar Tommy" Chapman