Search the Collection
Advanced Search

Eighteen footers

Date: 1920-1927
Overall: 190 × 118 mm
Mount / Matt size: 272 × 180 mm
Display dimensions: 590 × 435 mm
Medium: Bromoil
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Anne Christoffersen, in memory of the artist
Object Name: Photograph
Object No: 00054633
Related Place:Sydney Harbour,

User Terms

    This view from the 1920s shows several 18-foot sailing skiffs, including Keriki in the foreground heave-to in front of spectators at Clark Island, Sydney Harbour. These heavily canvassed sailing skiffs were enthusiastically campaigned and followed by ferry-loads of spectators from the 1890s when championed by entrepeneur Mark Foy. The class is still raced competitively today.

    Cazneaux exhibited a copy of this photograph at the London Colonial and Overseas exhibition at the Royal Photographic Society 1928 and published in the Amateur Photographer and cinematographer with a critique May 1928.
    SignificanceWith its celebration of the 18-foot sailors and their skiffs this atmospheric bromoil print photograph represents the painterly interests of Harold Cazneaux, Australia's leading pictorialist photographer of the early twentieth century.
    HistoryHarold Cazneaux was working first as an artist-retoucher at Hammer Studio in the 1890s (He was born in 1878, was only 13 when his mother died in 1892) and had a low opinion of the formulaic studio portraiture. He was inspired to pursue art photography in the 1890s in Adelaide after seeing local work by John Kauffman and imported examples of the new impressionistic art photography movement known as Pictorial Photography.

    He moved to Sydney in 1904 and obtaining his own camera started taking photographs around Sydney in a Pictorial style stressing atmosphere and also nostalgia for the old Sydney world of the Rocks and local manual workers and residents. A parallel focus on Old Sydney was a feature of print makers at the turn of the century.
    His first one man show in 1909 included many harbour side city images often in soft focus taken early morning and after work on his way home to North Sydney and on weekend ferry excursions ot Watsons Bay and Mosman etc..

    From his arrival in Sydney Cazneaux was struck by the contrasts of old and new in the ‘big smoke’ of Sydney especially the harbourside shipping but treated these as atmospheric romantic images in a style well established by late Victorian era printmakers and painters. He was commissioned to photograph BHP plants in NSW and South Australian for the Company’s 1935 Jubilee. The industrial images combined both pictorialist atmosphere with the drama and scale of modernist celebrations of the machine age.

    From as early as 1915 with his art -deco striped child study The Bamboo Blind, Cazneaux developed a hybrid Pictorialist –Modernist style incorporating clearer geometric lines and brighter sunshine. In his work for The Home magazine Cazneaux most often worked in a sun-lit style although still exhibiting more impressionistic works in the Pictorialist Salons. In the late 1920s and1930s his modern style was the equal of his younger contemporaries like Max Dupain but always retained a human interest element and perspective even rather than the colder machine age aesthetic and distorting angles favoured by modernists.
    From Gael Newton
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Eighteen footers

    Assigned title: Eighteen-footers Sydney Harbour

    Related People
    Photographer: Harold Cazneaux

    Discuss this Object


    Please log in to add a comment.