# 31905

Photographer unknown.

Aboriginal men assembled for a public display. Brisbane, circa 1901.

$2,000.00 AUD

Albumen print photograph, 140 x 200 mm, laid down on its original card mount; no photographer’s imprint; a very strong print with excellent tonal range and clarity, in fine condition.

This possibly unique photograph shows a group of over twenty men dressed and painted for ceremony. Assembled in a single line that stretches across an urban beach close to the water’s edge, the men are holding gulmari shields – a traditional shield type of southern Queensland – as well as spears and boomerangs. In the background is a large crowd of European onlookers – men, women and children – dressed in summer fashion. The women’s dresses and hats, in particular, help to date the photograph to the end of the Victorian or very beginning of the Edwardian period. A tall Norfolk pine dominates the skyline left of centre.

We believe the photograph was taken at Redcliffe or Sandgate, Brisbane, probably around the time of Federation in early 1901.

On Friday 18 January, 1901, as part of a public event to celebrate the visit of Imperial troops to Brisbane, an early evening corroboree was staged at the Exhibition showgrounds under the direction of Archibald Meston, Protector of Abrorigines. Local newspapers reported an extraordinary attendance of 40,000 at that event. Perhaps the present photograph records a beachfront display by the same men during the weekend following the main Exhibition event.