MOORE, Mina (Minnie Louise) (1882-1957) / MOORE, May (Annie May) (1881-1931); [McCORMACK, John, 1884-1945]
Photographic portrait of Irish tenor John McCormack. Inscribed by the singer for “Mrs Moore”.
[1911 or 1913]. Carbon print photograph, 200 x 130 mm, laid down on the original studio card with stencilled imprint in lower left margin ‘Mina Moore / May Moore’, and inscribed (presumably a number of years later) for one of the photographer sisters across the lower mount ‘To Mrs Moore, with best regards, from John McCormack’; the print has a small studio retouch below McCormack’s tie, but is in fine condition, as is the mount (pin holes top and bottom edge).
This unrecorded studio portrait of renowned Irish tenor John McCormack appears to have been taken in May and Mina Moore’s Sydney studio in the same sitting as a companion portrait in the collection of the State Library of Victoria (Accession No: H38782/669). McCormack first visited Australia in late 1911, when he toured the country with Dame Neliie Melba. He subsequently returned to Australia in 1913 and 1920.
Since McCormack’s dedication unequivocally reads ‘To Mrs Moore’ (and not ‘Miss Moore’), he must have inscribed the photograph no earlier than 1915. May married dentist Henry Hammon Wilkes on 13 July 1915; Mina married William Alexander Tainsh, company secretary and poet, on 20 December 1916 in Melbourne. McCormack’s inscription must, therefore, have been written in 1920. Whether he signed his portrait for May (in Sydney) or Mina (in Melbourne), it is impossible to say.
The New Zealand-born photographers, sisters May and Mina Moore, made significant contributions to Australian portrait photography in the period between 1910 and 1920. May arrived in Sydney in 1910, and after working from a temporary studio in the Bulletin building, she opened her first studio in Sydney in George Street the following year, when she was joined by her sister Mina. Much of the work they produced here (and later, even when they were working in different cities) was co-signed ‘May and Mina Moore’ (as the present example). Mina relocated to Melbourne in 1913. The sisters are noted for having a clientele that included artists, musicians, actors and writers.