A hunter and his dogs. Warrnambool district, Victoria, circa 1870.
Albumen print photograph, carte de visite format, 101 x 61 mm (mount), verso of mount with ornate gilt imprint of ‘J. Hider, Photographer. Opposite the Post Office. Warrnambool’; the print has beautiful greyish tones and excellent clarity, and aside from some mild surface rubbing is in fine condition.
Unusually informal for a colonial photograph of this period, this significant little image shows an unidentified Warrnambool-district gentleman who is captured by the photographer aiming his rifle at a target, with his two hunting dogs slightly restless at his feet, ready to receive the command to retrieve the kill. Was this a privately commissioned photograph, or is it in fact a self-portrait by James Hider?
‘Arriving in Warrnambool in 1848, James Hider (c.1817-1884) showed an active interest in civic affairs and public institutions. He became a Warrnambool Councillor in 1862, served two further terms 1864-69 and 1874-81, occupying the Mayoral Chair 1868-69 and 1880. James Hider was appointed the first rate collector of the township of Warrnambool in 1856 and was also the first paid secretary of the hospital in 1858. He was a photographer, bookseller and stationer. Hider Street was named by Council on 2nd Aug 1872.’ (City of Warrnambool)
Hider’s carte de visite photographs, comprising both studio portraits and outdoor views, are seldom encountered. The Art Gallery of New South Wales holds a small number of Hider’s landscape views of Tower Hill Lake and the picturesque Hopkins River, as well as what is clearly a companion carte de visite to the one we offer here, showing the same gentleman on a hunting trip with two companions and one of his dogs (the same dog can be seen, partially obscured, at the right-hand edge of our carte de visite).
All six of the AGNSW’s Hider cartes were chosen for inclusion in the landmark exhibiton The photograph and Australia, which was staged at the AGNSW and QAGOMA in 2015.