The Stock Route

Monday 19 December 2005

As a small contribution to Alan Griffiths’ work of building a comprehensive website about photography, here is a photograph from my collection.

'The Stock Route'

The Stock Route, photograph by Harold Cazneaux. Print titled and signed in pencil on the matte. Image 18 x 18 cm.
Harold Cazneaux, known affectionately as “Caz”, was a good-looking, modest little man, with a very big record, who became the benevolent father of Pictorialism in Australia. [Jack Cato, The story of the camera in Australia (1955), p. 150.]
His choice of subjects, his splendid instinct for design and light and shade, certainly puts him as an artist above many of our painters. No one has represented trees in any way comparable with those in his prints. He is a landscape man of the first water. He has a great gift. [Sir Arthur Streeton, 1950, quoted by Cato, p. 154]
The gentle romanticism of the pictorialists was divorced from the modern world. Images of work, for instance, were generally restricted to rural labourers and draughthorses. The pictorialist philosophy held that treatment was more important than subject matter, thus nearly any subject would be grist for the mill. Harold Cazneaux, the leading pictorialist, could make a fine picturesque study out of the demolition of a building, washing hanging in a dilapidated alley or a group of wharfies on a foggy morning. [Anne-Marie Willis, Picturing Australia: a history of photography (1988), p. 136]
Australian gum trees were another favoured motif and one with which Cazneaux is readily identified. The trees are invariably presented as strong, enduring forces, able to withstand the onslaught of time. [Helen Innes, Harold Cazneaux: the quiet observer (1994), p. 9]
Place all your effort, not in mere technique, but more so in the perfection of the art of selection and creative ideas in subject matter. Remember, too, that imagination also is necessary to focus those pictures in your mind … Let out the reins in your art studies but hold them tightly on technique, for today the latter has the nasty habit of getting out in front.[Harold Cazneaux, 1952, quoted by Helen Innes, p. 9]

There is a more tightly cropped print from this negative in the National Library, entitled Australian stock route.

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