Category: Photographic History

1 October 2019

Andrew Cunningham’s 1870 Captain Thunderbolt Photographs

On 25 May 1870 the bushranger Frederick Ward (popularly known as ‘Thunder­bolt’ or ‘Captain Thunder­bolt’) was shot and killed by a police trooper named Alexander Walker at Kentucky Creek, near Uralla, in northern New South Wales. In the following days an Armidale photographer named Andrew Cunningham captured at least ten photo­graphs pertaining to Ward’s death. Some of these photos (particularly three of Ward’s cadaver) are well known; however, virtually no investigation of at least four other photos of the site where Ward was shot has been undertaken. I also look at the visual representation of Ward’s ‘capture’ in the colonial illustrated press, noting the ways in which these images diverge from reported reality.

23 May 2018

The All England Eleven’s 1861-62 Australian Tour and Early Cricket Photography at the Sydney Domain

The All England cricket team’s tour of 1861–62 generated unprecedented interest and excitement in the Australian colonies. In this article I discuss the visual documentation of one of the matches held at Sydney’s Outer Domain in early 1862, near the Royal Botanical Garden. While an enormous panorama of the match captured by Thomas Glaister doesn’t appear to have survived, reportedly ‘instantaneous’ photographs of the match were also taken representing very early steps in the evolution of sports photography.

10 January 2018

William Kilburn’s 1848 Chartist Daguerreotypes

Remarkably, a pioneering and quite detailed photographic record survives of the culmination of one of the most significant days in English nineteenth-century political history—William Kilburn’s fascinating Daguerreotypes of the Chartist mass meeting held at Ken­ning­ton Common (now Ken­ning­ton Park), London on 10 April 1848. In this essay I look at Kilburn, his relationship with the Royal family and some of the potential reasons why he captured these very early images of mass political action. The essay concludes with a short discussion of whether Kilburn’s Chartist images were the first of a crowd.