HUGHAN, Allan (1834-1883)
Two photographs of Kanak people, New Caledonia, circa 1875
I. Albumen print photograph, 155 x 210 mm, inscribed in the negative at bottom right ‘Hughan’, laid down on its original album page of thick card, the lower margin with contemporary caption in ink: ‘Indigènes de l’ile des Pins, Nlle. Calédonie’; the albumen print has slight loss of contrast, but is otherwise in very good condition. A view of a group of 18 indigenous Kanak men, women and children outside a traditional thatched dwelling on the Isle of Pines.
II. Albumen print photograph, 140 x 210 mm (probably trimmed at bottom edge and therefore lacking the photographer’s name in the negative), laid down on its original album page of thick card, the lower margin with contemporary caption in ink: ‘Une gendarmerie dans la Brousse (Nouvelle-Calédonie), groupe de Kanaks’; the albumen print has a couple of small marks in the sky area at top right, and a short closed tear at right edge (apparently made before the print was mounted), but is otherwise a very strong print in good condition. A view of a colonial police outpost, the French flag flying atop a flagpole improvised from a tall sapling; in the left foreground the photographer has composed a group of proud young Kanak men in a symmetrical arrangement.
Allan Hughan was a British merchant and ship’s captain who had been shipwrecked in New Caledonia in 1870. By 1871 he had started a commercial photography business in Nouméa, and the following year he was appointed government photographer. In addition to studio portraits his work included views of Nouméa and the interior of the island, documentation of the traditional way of life and customs of the Kanak people, and an official photographic study of the French penal colony on the Isle of Pines.