BARDWELL, William H. (1836-1929)
Self-portrait of William Bardwell, pioneer photographer of the Victorian goldfields. Melbourne, circa 1880.
Albumen print photograph, cabinet card format, 165 x 109 mm (mount), recto imprinted in gold across lower margin ‘Bardwell / 21 Collins Street East, Melbourne / Instantaneous Photographs’; verso blank; the print has a short horizontal indentation with a small surface abrasion at centre left edge, but is otherwise in very good condition; the mount is clean and stable.
A possibly unrecorded self-portrait of William Bardwell (1836-1929), pioneer Ballarat photographer. It was taken in his Collins Street studio around 1880, following his move to Melbourne in 1879. The National Portrait Gallery holds a carte de visite format self-portrait of Bardwell bearing the imprint of his Ballarat studio, which it dates to 1870. However, given that Bardwell appears to be about the same age (early 40s) in both portraits, it is likely that the NPG’s portrait dates to no earlier than around 1878. According to Davies & Stanbury (Mechanical Eye in Australia), Bardwell was active at his 21 Collins Street address – his first Melbourne studio – only from 1880, but the DAAO (see below) suggests he had already relocated to Melbourne by the end of 1878.
‘William Bardwell, professional photographer, was employed in 1858 by Saul Solomon at Ballarat, Victoria providing photographs of the town which were lithographed by François Cogné for The Ballarat Album (1859). Solomon and Bardwell were soon partners; they worked in Main Street from 1859, in Sturt Street from 1865 and visited Maryborough and Dunolly (Victoria) in 1865. Together they exhibited photographic portraits at the 1862 Geelong Industrial Exhibition and the 1863 Ballarat Mechanics Institute Exhibition. Their ‘new sennotype process’ was judged ‘highly successful’ by the Illustrated Melbourne Post of 27 December 1862. On 9 February 1863, the Argus reported that Bardwell had photographed the ceremony of the laying of the foundation stone of the Burke and Wills memorial in Sturt Street from a vantage point on the roof of the Ballarat Post Office.
By 28 September 1866 the partnership seems to have been dissolved for Bardwell was then advertising his Royal Photographic Studio in the Clunes Gazette : ‘The studio is every way replete with suitable accommodation for the preparation of toilet and rooms are provided for both ladies and gentlemen. Mr Bardwell’s long and practical example will entitle him to the claim to the first position in Ballarat as a photographer.’ He exhibited views and portraits, including Portrait of the Very Rev. Dean Hayes , at the 1869 Ballarat Institute Exhibition and showed photographs of Ballarat at the 1870 Sydney Intercolonial (for sale at £6). Other exhibited photographs included ‘a large panorama of the city of Ballarat, in a semi-circular form’, shown at the 1872 Victorian Exhibition.
Photographs believed to be by Bardwell of the Chinese giant Chang Woo Gow and his wife and child (who visited Ballarat 1870) are held at the Gold Museum, Ballarat, while the Mitchell Library has an 1871 Bardwell photograph of Chang alone. His photograph of The Band of Hope and Albion Consolidated Registered [mining company], Ballarat 1872 was incorporated into a lithographic advertisement for the company by F.W. Niven , and Niven’s Directory for the City of Ballarat for 1875 included an original photograph advertising Bardwell’s studio. The Mitchell and La Trobe libraries hold large collections of Bardwell’s cartes-de-visite portraits and views of Ballarat.
Although Bardwell was in partnership with J. Beauchamp at Ballarat for some part of 1878, he was working on his own in Melbourne later that year. The photographer at Bardwell’s Royal Studios at Ballarat during the 1880s was a Mr Williams; William Bardwell remained in Melbourne.
From his studio at 11 Royal Arcade, Melbourne, William Bardwell exhibited photographs at the Melbourne Centennial International Exibition 1888-89 in the Victorian Court Class 12: Photographic proofs and apparatus, cat. no. 293.’