# 4088


Five photographic portraits of female Melbourne musical performers, circa 1868

$750.00 AUD

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Circa 1868. Five albumen print photographs, carte de visite format, each 101 x 62 mm, verso of mounts with studio imprint of Davies & Co., Photographers, 91 & 94 Bourke St. East, Melbourne; verso of each mount also with contemporary owner's inscription in ink, 'Henry Benjamin'; one portrait (of a young lady in costume) has a small mark and trimmed mount; otherwise the condition of the entire group is excellent. 

Henry Benjamin was a Melbourne musical composer and professional music teacher of the 1860s and 70s. These photographs were owned by Benjamin, and the young women in them are almost certainly some of Benjamin's pupils. It appears likely that Benjamin arranged for each of the women to have their portrait taken by Davies & Co.

From 1868 until the early 1870s Bewnjamin's advertisements, along with notices of public performances of his compositions, appeared in The Argus. The first (4 May 1868) announces: 'Mr. Henry Benjamin, teacher piano-forte, harmonium and concertina, 217 Bourke St. Terms moderate. Evening lessons';  he later (14 December 1868) adds his private residence to the advertisement, 'Barkly Villa, Darling Street, South Yarra'; and soon begins to describe himself as 'Professor of Music'; by June 1869 he had obtained new premises at 103 Collins Street, East; on the 28 August 1869 a notice advertises a newly published musical work by Henry Benjamin: 'WESTON'S OPERA-HOUSE. NEW BALLAD. WILT THOU BE MINE, COMPOSED BY Mr. HENRY BENJAMIN Expressly for WESTON and HUSSEY'S MINSTRELS and sung by J. A. Herman, THE SILVERY TENOR, WILL SHORTLY BE PUBLISHED. ALL MUSIC SELLERS, And of Mr. Hy. Benjamin, professor of muslc, 103 Colilns-Street east.' On 17 September a staff writer in The Argus noted that 'Mr. Henry Benjamin, encouraged by the manner in which his ballad “Wilt Thou be Mine” has been received at Weston's Opera House, has had the composition printed in the lithographic style for public circulation. The song is to be had at all the music sellers.' On 4 February 1870, Benjamin was mentioned in The Argus for a different reason: 'Dr. Clement Adler, a teacher of languages, appeared on bail before the Fitzroy Police court yesterday, to answer a summons charging him with endeavouring to incite Henry Benjamin, a professor of music, to fight a duel'. The emerging great writer Marcus Clarke collaborated with Benjamin on at least one work: on 8 February 1872, an announcement in The Argus for a concert at St George's Hall advertises 'Mr. HARRY RICKARDS In the new song of “Doing the Block” (written by Marcus Clarke, Esq , composed by Henry Benjamin, Esq.'; however, in July 1872 it is recorded that Benjamin sued Harry Rickards for a large sum, alleging that Rickards had used some of Benjamin's music for financial gain without acknowledgement.