# 15021

LINGWOOD SMITH, William Thomas, 1860-1933

An important archive of photographs of Aboriginal subjects by police photographer W.T. Lingwood Smith, South Australia and Central Australia, circa 1900.

$32,000.00 AUD

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William Thomas Lingwood Smith was a Detective Photographer in the South Australian Police Force from 1888 until his retirement in 1922. As early as 1894 he also pioneered fingerprinting in Australia, becoming an expert in the Criminal Investigation Branch of the South Australian Police Department. The quality of his little-known, non-commercial photographic portraits of indigenous people rivals that of the much more famous portraits of another South Australian police photographer, Paul Foelsche.

Eleven photographs on early printing out paper, each approximately 145 x 100 mm, unmounted; head and torso portraits of identified Aboriginal subjects (versos with photographer’s pencilled captions and contemporary manuscript in ink ‘South Australian Aboriginal. Photo – W.T. Lingwood Smith, Detective Photographer, Adelaide’); all of the prints are in fine condition.

It is unlikely that Lingwood Smith ever met his older contemporary, fellow South Australian police photographer Paul Foelsche (1831-1914), whose photographic portraits of indigenous subjects taken in and around Palmerston (Darwin) between the 1870s and 1890s include many of the most visually compelling taken by any nineteenth century photographer working in Australia (see Jones, Philip. The policeman’s eye : the frontier photography of Paul Foelsche. Adelaide : South Australian Museum, 2005). It is almost certain, though, that Lingwood Smith would have come across Foelsche’s portraits in the South Australian police files. An album of photographs in the South Australian Museum (Series AA 295/01, Album P), whose provenance is given as ‘William Thomas Lingwood Smith’, bears out this theory, as it contains numerous photographs by both Foelsche and Lingwood Smith (including other copies of most of the photographs we offer here), along with others by F.J. Gillen, Saul Solomon, Henry Yorke Lyell Brown and Hermann Klaatsch, and would appear to have been compiled by Lingwood Smith himself. Whether the influence of Foelsche on Lingwood Smith is real or imagined, the similarities between the intense, beautifully lit portraits taken by both of these supremely gifted police photographers are immediately striking. Unlike those of Foelsche, however, the photographs of Lingwood Smith are virtually unknown; they were taken not for commercial purposes, but exclusively in the line of his police work; by contrast, a substantial part of Foelsche’s legacy comprises his topographical photography documenting the frontier township of Palmerston and the landscape of the Top End. With the exception of the album and some individual prints in the South Australian Museum, we can locate no examples of Lingwood Smith’s photography in any Australian collection.

The portraits in this archive of Lingwood Smith photographs were taken in various locations in South and Central Australia. The photographer’s captions identify the subjects by either their indigenous name or its anglicised version (sometimes both), as well as giving a location. They are as follows:

[1] Rebecca Blackmore / Murray River

[2] Ada Walker / Niledalli / Murray River

[3] Mary Beck / Kunda / Murray River

[4] Tommy Walker / Pollpalingada [Murray River]

[5] Emma Pritchard / Warrette / Last of the Gawler Tribe

[6] Dick Salter / Moona / Port Germain Tribe

[7] Koonea / Alice Springs

[8] Wannamucho. Innimincka (sic), North Australia

[9] Wannamucho. Innimincka (sic), North Australia

[10] Chapincharra / Palmer Creek

[11] Wanjirckara or Wonjirckara / Alice Springs

Lingwood Smith was listed as a police photographer under the name of ‘Smith, W.T. Lingwood’ at 140 Grote Street, Adelaide, in directories from 1891 to 1896; then as ‘Lingwood-Smith, W.T.’ at the following addresses: 1897–1903 140 Grote Street, Adelaide; 1904–12 Goodwood Road, Wayville; 1913+ Frederick Street, Parkside.’ (Noye, Dictionary of South Australian Photography, 1845-1914). This information suggests that the photographs we offer here were taken after 1897, as the photographer’s name on the versos is written in its later form.