# 41008

ROBINSON, Francis Whitfield

[SYDNEY] New South Wales Photographically Illustrated.

  • Sold

Sydney : Francis W. Robinson, [ca.1870]. Portfolio, large oblong quarto (250 x 320 mm), original purple pebbled-cloth boards with gilt lettering and decorative device to upper board (boards rubbed and flecked, spine sun-faded); front pastedown with the octagonal printed commercial label of ‘Francis W. Robinson. Landscape Photographer. By Special Appointment to H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh, K.G., K.B. 348 George Street, Sydney’; containing [9] albumen print photographs in uniform 120 x 200 mm format, laid down individually on the photographer’s card mounts (245 x 345 mm) with lithographed decorative borders, each with a printed caption label pasted in the bottom margin; with the exception of the first print (view of Circular Quay), which is a little foxed and faded, the prints are in good condition, a few with mottling in the negative; likewise, the first mount is foxed but the remainder are in very good condition; possibly complete, although we have not been able to ascertain the exact number of prints issued in this portfolio (its dimensions, however, suggest it would not have contained more than a dozen prints).

This rare Francis Whitfield Robinson portfolio of Sydney views was published soon after he had received his royal warrant (late 1868) and announced his intention to specialise solely in landscape photography.

No other example traced (complete or otherwise).

The individual title labels on the mounts are:

Circular Quay, No. 1; Sydney, from North Shore, No. 1; Sydney, from North Shore, No. 2; Sydney, from North Shore, No. 3; Sydney, from North Shore, No. 4; Sydney, from the Spire of St. James’s, No. 1; Sydney, from the Spire of St. James’s, No. 2; Miller’s Point, from Balmain; Woolloomooloo, from St. James’s.

From DAAO:

‘Francis Whitfield Robinson (b. c.1819), professional photographer and printer, was working as a printer in the Age newspaper office at Melbourne in 1858 when he showed ‘specimens of electrotype for letter press printing’ at the Victorian Industrial Society’s exhibition. An engraved view of a recent cricket match between Sydney and Melbourne by ‘Robinson’ was also exhibited, presumably by the same artist. Two years later he advertised as a photographer and showed four photographs of Melbourne at the Victorian Exhibition of Fine Arts: Studley Park Bridge, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne from the Parliament Houses and Parliament Houses from the East. At the 1866 Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition he showed eight photographic views of Melbourne taken from the Post Office tower, photographic copies of engravings, and specimens of photolithography. The view photographs were subsequently shown in the Victorian court at the 1867 Paris Universal Exhibition.

Robinson moved to Sydney in 1867 and worked there until about 1882. Between 1867 and 1871 he managed the Premier Photographic Company which specialised in stereoscopic photographs, including views of Sydney Harbour. Robinson himself attended to the landscape and architectural photography side of the business, announcing in 1868 that ‘having let the Portrait Branch of his business, [he] will from this date devote his attention solely to Landscape Photography and copying of Works of Art’. In other issues of the Herald he advertised: ‘to architects and others – Buildings artistically photographed at very low rates’ and ‘Artistic photographs of residences taken at moderate charges’.

Having photographed landscapes for the Duke of Edinburgh on his 1867-68 visit to the Australian colonies, Robinson received a royal warrant at the end of 1868 and henceforth advertised as ‘landscape photographer to his Royal Highness, Duke of Edinburgh’. Reporting this honour, the Sydney Morning Herald added: ‘among the recent pictures by Mr Robinson is a fine photograph of St Andrew’s Cathedral, taken from a point near the temporary wooden building, showing to great advantage the ecclesiastical edifice consecrated on St Andrew’s Day’. Various photographs by Robinson were sent to Sydney’s 1870 Intercolonial Exhibition from his George Street studio. In 1872 he published Sydney Harbour: A Descriptive Poem illustrated with seven photographs, including Government House from the Domain and Garden Island . He exhibited with the New South Wales Academy of Art in the 1870s, including a ‘photograph of an oil painting’ in 1873 and a panorama of Sydney Harbour in 1878. From 1872 to 1875 his studio was at 6 Wynyard Square East, then at Sarah Street, Paddington, in 1883-84.