# 15724

Photographer unknown.

[TASMANIA] A daguerreotype portrait of a woman wearing a bonnet and Paisley pattern dress, identified as “Mary Ann Fielding of Australia”

$1,200.00 AUD

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[Australia? : s.n., circa 1860]. Ninth plate daguerreotype, exposed image 56 x 43 mm, still sealed in its original pressed copper mat and frame, 71 x 55 mm; verso with the original leather backing inscribed in an early twentieth century hand ‘Mary Ann Fielding of Australia. Mother’s namesake’; original string for suspension; the daguerreotype is intact, with scattered tarnishing beneath the cover glass and a mild rose hue from oxidation.

If this is indeed an Australian daguerreotype, there is a strong possibility it has a Tasmanian connection. We have tentatively identified the subject as Mary Ann Fielding (née Harvey, 1823-1863). Her obituary appeared in the Launceston Examiner, 16 July 1863: “At her residence, Exton, July 11, 1863, Mary Ann, the beloved wife of J.J. Fielding, aged 39 years.” The style of dress she is wearing dates the photograph to around 1860 – relatively late for a daguerreotype – which would mean she was in her late thirties when the likeness was taken.

Following her death, Mary Ann’s husband, James Fielding, married Ann Clarke. They had a daughter, also called Mary Ann, who was clearly named in honour of her father’s first wife. This explains the “namesake” reference in the later inscription on the back of the daguerreotype. The younger Mary Ann was born in Exton on 26 April 1869 and died on 8 July 1945 in Yolla, Tasmania. She married George Edward Dobson (born Exton, 12 July 1872; died Yolla, Tasmania, 1 April 1945) on 26 April 1899 in Port Frederick (Devonport). The couple had five children: Ethel Nellie, Kathleen Mary, Hazel, Stanley and Henry James, one of whom presumably wrote the inscription identifying the subject as “mother’s namesake”. (Since they were all issue of James Fielding’s second wife, they were not related by blood to the first Mary Ann). George and Mary Ann Dobson resided in Penguin, Smithton and Elliott before settling in Yolla in the 1920’s. Both are buried in the Penguin General Cemetery.

As the daguerreotype was sourced from an American collection, we postulate that it was taken to the United States at some point in the early twentieth century by one of George and Mary Ann Dobson’s five children, a fact which would account for the inclusion of the modifier “of Australia” in the inscription.