The Clarence Valley Photographs John William Lindt Collection
Lindt was one of the first photographers to use the camera creatively to move beyond recording to make evocative pictures that were referred to as pictorialism. He became recognised nationally and internationally for his artistic contribution to the development of photography.
These photographs were taken in the Clarence Valley between 1873 and 1874, with 37 being gifted to the gallery through generous donation by the Cullen Family of Sydney, seven by the Friends of the Gallery and one by Ian & Florence Robinson.
The limits of the technology of photography caused Lindt to invite his subjects into his studio to be photographed. The beautiful portraits though posed convey a unique insight into the lives of local Aboriginal peoples, local flora and the early European settlers in the Grafton area.
The studio Aboriginal portraits taken in Grafton were considered by Lindt’s contemporaries to be the first successful attempt at representing the Aborigines truthfully as well as artistically.
Lindt took great care in portraying his subjects from childhood, maturity and old age, and clearly tried to show Aborigines as they lived before European contact. The detailed pictures capture skin textures and intricate scarification, jewellery, clothes, tools, weapons and utensils such as string carry bags. Lindt arranged native flora, built a gunyah and even used native animals both dead and alive to help portray the landscape in which the people lived.
Lindt also created a series titled, Australian Types, that were studio portraits of European workers and he pioneered photographing the landscapes of the Clarence Valley. He travelled to the various settlements and properties in the valley with his mobile photography studio to take portraits of individuals and families and photographs of properties such as Yulglibar in the Upper Clarence.
He was one of the first photographers to use the camera creatively, to move beyond recording to make evocative pictures that were referred to as pictorialism. This adventurous photographer became recognised nationally and internationally for his artistic contribution to the development of photography.
The eight remaining photographs in the collection are outstanding examples of pictorial landscape photography, particularly Im Bette des Urara Flufses (In the bend of the Orara River). The Artists Camp near Watervale on the Newton Boyd is considered to be a self portrait of Lindt at the age of 28. The photograph Solferino a two part panorama of the town, donated by Ian & Florence Robinson in 2006, features Ian’s grand father Louis Robinson who was the proprietor of the European Hotel. This photograph has impeccable provenance having been collected or possibly commissioned by William Zeitsch, a Grafton business investor. It has remained in the Zeitsch family having been bequeathed through generations.
The Clarence Valley Photographs by John William Lindt Collection form a group of historically and aesthetically important photographs of the Clarence Valley.