# 23482

BAUME, Joseph Wellesh

Aboriginal group, including a man holding a broad shield, with two Europeans. Murray River (northern Victoria or southern New South Wales), circa 1868.

$2,200.00 AUD

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Albumen print photograph, carte de visite format, 65 x 102 mm (mount), verso with wet stamp of ‘Jos[ep]h Baume, Photographic Artist. From Swanston Street, Melbourne.’ and inscription in ink ‘No. 3’ (presumably the photographer’s sequence number); the albumen print is in very good condition (a tiny dint above the man with the broad shield), with good tonal range and clarity; the front of the mount has just a few spots of light foxing around the right margin.

An important and possibly unique image that records an Aboriginal group comprising seven men and two women dressed in European clothing, in their encampment in close proximity to the Murray River – possibly in the vicinity of Echuca. The man at the centre of the photograph is holding a broad shield with a design typical of this part of the Murray, both in the Southern Riverina of New South Wales and in northeastern Victoria. Seated beside them are two white men, the one on the left being quite smartly dressed as if visiting from town, the one on the right with the attire and demeanour of an unsophisticated “bushie”. While we can only speculate on the relationship that the group had with these two men, it appears likely they were still living on their own country, albeit on land that was now occupied by white settlers. The photograph predates the Maloga Mission, which was established near Moama by Daniel Matthews in 1874. In all likelihood the men and women are Barapa Barapa, Wemba Wemba or Yorta Yorta people, many of whom would subsequently be moved onto Maloga and later on, the reserve at nearby Cummeragunja.

From DAAO:

‘A professional photographer, Joseph Wellesh Baume worked in Melbourne in 1860 before becoming an itinerant photographer and travelling around rural Victoria and New South Wales … [he] was working at 39 Swanston Street, Melbourne, in 1860, moving the following year to 8 Bourke Street where he remained until 1862. He exhibited Portrait of—Sargeant Esq. at the Victorian Exhibition of Fine Arts in 1860. Later he became a travelling photographer in rural Victoria and south-western New South Wales, being recorded at Echuca, Deniliquin and Hay in 1868 and at Church Street and Scallen Street, Pleasant Creek (Stawell, Victoria), on undated cartes-de-visite.’

Curiously, DAAO omits any reference to Baume’s New Zealand connection: he emigrated to New Zealand in the mid 1860s, where he also worked as a photographer. From Early New Zealand Photographers and their Successors:

‘Joseph Wellesh Baume. Dunedin – Oamaru –  Timaru, 1865. Born circa 1822, Pest [now part of Budapest], Hungary, naturalised 11 April 1860 Victoria, Australia aged 38 years, married 1861, Victoria, Australia, Emilie Ehrenfried, she was born circa 1840 Hamburg, Germany, died 3 February 1925 Rotorua New Zealand, her brothers were the brewers Louis and Bernard Ehrenfried, and her sister Catherine Ehrenfried was the mother of Sir Arthur Mielziner Myers 1867-1926, businessman, politician, philanthropist.’

As the photograph was certainly not taken prior to 1865, it seems reasonable to assume that Baume captured the image following a return to Australia at the end of the 1860s. Perhaps he persisted in using the description ‘From Swanston Street, Melbourne’ on the back of his cartes de visite, even at this late date, to add a cachet of prestige to his humble status as an itinerant photographer, although Baume had not, in fact, had a studio in Swanston Street since 1861.