HEWITT, Charles (1837-1912)
Photographic portrait of a gentleman in Turkish costume, possibly an attendee of the Mayor’s Fancy Dress Ball, Melbourne, 1866.
Albumen print photograph with hand colouring, carte de visite format, 103 x 63 mm, verso with imprint of ‘C. Hewitt, Photographer, Australasian Studio, 95 Swanston St. Melbourne’; a small section of loss to the colouring on the gentleman’s jacket due to rubbing, otherwise the print and mount are in fine condition.
‘Charles Hewitt, professional photographer, was a foundation member of the Council of the Photographic Society of Victoria formed at Melbourne in 1860. In 1860-62 Hewitt was in partnership with Charles Nettleton at 91 Bourke Street East then he apparently set up on his own, being listed as an independent photographer in the Melbourne Directory for 1865. At the 1866 Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition Hewitt received an honourable mention for his fancy-dress portraits, presumably photographs of guests at the mayoral fancy-dress ball which opened the new Exhibition Building in September 1866.’ (DAAO)
Although Davies & Stanbury (Mechanical Eye) list Hewitt at his first studio at 95 Swanston Street only from 1867, he was at those premises at least as early August 1866, as the following mention in The Herald, 4 August 1866, proves: ‘We have received from Mr. Charles Hewitt, Swanston street, a specimen of the new cabinet photograph portraits….’
The Mayor’s Fancy Dress Ball was reviewed in The Age, 21 September 1866:
‘The above event, which may almost be said to have been the sole topic of conversation in social circles of late, came off in due course, in the new Exhibition Building, last evening, and was successful to a degree which must be equally gratifying to the inviter and the invited. There were in round numbers some 1200 persons present, and the costumes were as varied and brilliant as ever an exacting critic could have reasonably required. The success was the more gratifying, inasmuch as fancy balls on an extensive, and it may, without exaggeration, be added, splendid scale, were not previously unknown to the residents of Melbourne and its neighborhood as having been held in the Victorian metropolis, and some of these bo recently that the remembrance of them must be still fresh in the minds of all votaries of pleasure amongst our urban and suburban population. However strong the desire might have been to avoid invidious comparisons between the present and the past, it was impossible wholly to forget that these formidable standards were in existence, by whioh any palpable shortcomings of the festive occasion would be rendered unpleasantly conspicuous, and it is therefore a fair subject for congratulation to the chief magistral of tho city, that his hospitable intentions were carried into effect in a style which must disarm all fair and candid criticism….’