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This photographic negative was probably taken by George Bell who worked for the Sydney based company of Charles Kerry and Co. George Bell was employed by the Sydney firm of Kerry and Co. in 1890, and the work he produced over the following ten years, stands amongst the best of this period. Bell’s pictures transcended hackneyed journalistic records of people and places, and his best photos, contain a lyrical quality, at odds with the demands of journalistic realism. Between 1890 and 1900 Bell, no...
Photographic negative, farm hand shearing the last cut of wool, glass / gelatin emulsion, photographed by George Bell (attributed), published by Kerry and Co, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1890-1900
Silver gelatin dry plate glass negative in landscape format. The caption, studio number and studio mark have been removed from the reverse of the negative.
The negative is not fully catalogued.
49/42 Tyrrell Inventory Number, 790 Kerry Studio Number
Charles Kerry was born in 1858 and by 1885 was running a studio in partnership with C. D. Jones. This partnership lasted until 1892, when Charles became sole owner and changed the studio's name to Kerry and Co.
By 1890 the company was employing a number of photographers who would become famous in their own right. George Bell who covered rural New South Wales was employed in 1890 and Harold Bradley was doing outdoor work and covering events around Sydney by 1899.
Kerry continued to work in the field and in 1895 he took photographs of Royal National Park for New South Wales Government, photographed Queensland artesian bores and was employed by the New South Wales Government to travel the state and photograph Indigenous Australians. In 1897 Kerry led the first party to reach the summit of Mt Kosciuszko in winter conditions and photographed the Jenolan caves.
By 1900 Kerry had turned his studio into one of the largest and most respected photographic establishments in the colony. His new four story premises at 310 George St were designed by the architect H. C. Kent and the third floor studios alone could accommodate 70 people wanting their portraits taken.
In 1913 Kerry retired leaving the running of the studio to his nephew, unfortunately the business did not do well and Kerry and Co. closed its doors in 1917. Kerry himself died in 1928.
Geoff Barker, Curatorial, January, 2009
References Newton, Gael, Shades of Light; Photography and Australia 1839 - 1988, Australian National Gallery, Canberra, 1988 David, Millar, Charles Kerry's Federation Australia, Sydney, David Ell Press, 1981 Tyrell, James, Australian Aboriginal and South Sea Islands Implements, Weapons and Curios, James Tyrell, Sydney, 1929
This photographic negative is one of 2900 Kerry & Co. photographs in the Powerhouse Museum's 'Tyrrell Collection' once owned by Sydney bookseller, James Tyrrell. Almost all of these negatives are 21.5 x 20.3 cm (10 x 8 inch) glass plates and many of those now held by the Powerhouse Museum collection would have been used to create postcards. In addition to the Kerry & Co. Studio images, the Tyrrell Collection at the Powerhouse Museum includes glass plate negatives published by Henry King and a number of other negatives by unattributed photographers
James Tyrrell used the images by Kerry & Co. and Henry King to produce his own booklets and views of New South Wales but although full of iconic Australian images, the collection does not appear to have been fully utilised by Tyrrell.
In 1980 the collection was purchased by Australian Consolidated Press who published a limited series of 2000 contact prints from the collection. Housed in boxes copies of these were given to the State Library of New South Wales and the Macleay Museum at the University of Sydney.
In 1985 Australian Consolidated Press donated the collection to the Powerhouse keeping a set of copy prints for themselves. The collection at this time consisted of 7,903 glass plate negatives and 7,916 contact positive prints. Of these 493 glass plates were damaged but usable and 13 plates totally broken.
A further 2,500 Kerry & Co. negatives are held in the Macleay Museum at the University of Sydney.
Geoff Barker, Curatorial, November 2008
References Newton, Gael, Shades of Light; Photography and Australia 1839 - 1988, Australian National Gallery, Canberra, 1988 David, Millar, Charles Kerry's Federation Australia, Sydney, David Ell Press, 1981 Tyrell, James, Australian Aboriginal and South Sea Islands Implements, Weapons and Curios, James Tyrell, Sydney, 1929 Valdon, 'Our Artistic Workers; Mr. George Bell', Australian Photographic Journal, Volume 17, Number 199, December 21, 1908