HETZER, William fl. 1850-67
View of Circular Quay, Sydney, taken in early 1859.
Stereoscopic albumen print photograph, each individual image 80 x 77 mm (arched format), original plain grey mount 84 x 172 mm, verso with fully contemporary inscription in ink ‘Circular Quay’ (but lacking Hetzer’s printed label) and an accompanying contemporary caption in ink ‘Circular Quay’; both of the prints are strong and have excellent tonal range; the mount is clean and stable.
This rare, very early photographic view of Circular Quay from The Rocks was taken in the first half of 1859 by Sydney photographer William Hetzer. The view looks east across Campbell’s Wharf, where a sailing ship is moored, towards Government House in the distance.
Another example, with Hetzer’s printed label on the reverse that reads Stereoscopic Views of Sydney and Environs by W. Hetzer, Photographic Artist, 287 George Street, Sydney, N.S.W., is held in the Historic Houses Trust’s Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection.
Hetzer had arrived in Sydney from Germany in 1850. With his wife Thekla as his assistant, Hetzer was active as a professional photographer in Sydney from this date until the Hetzers’ departure from the colony in 1867. From 1858 Hetzer pioneered the stereoscopic albumen print photograph in Australia, and in 1860 was also among the first Australian photographers to experiment with and promote the carte de visite. His studio premises were located at 287 George Street from 1859.
Hetzer’s stereoscopic photographs are among the earliest outdoor views of Sydney. He was the first photographer to attempt to make a comprehensive record of the buildings, streetscapes and topography of this rapidly developing metropolis with its distinctive and majestic natural setting. From late 1858 until 1863, Hetzer produced a significant number of such views which proved immensely popular with the public. The series titled Stereoscopic Views of Sydney and Environs was first offered by subscription in September 1858, with an initial set of 36 views. During 1859 Hetzer added to the series; the following journalist’s review in The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 May 1859, states that there were ‘now upwards of sixty slides’ commercially available, which included the present view of Circular Quay, looking east:
‘The introduction here of photography, by gentlemen who had attained eminence as artists in other countries, has enabled us to secure, on comparatively easy terms, many enchanting representations of local scenery, and pictures of other subjects, which, but for the cultivation of that art, would be entirely beyond the reach of all except a few of our more affluent citizens. Some months ago, we introduced to public notice a number of photographic stereoscopic views of Sydney and its environs, just then completed by Mr. W. Hetzer. The series now numbers upwards of sixty slides, which comprise a succession of views forming two or three complete panoramas, with many detached pictures of nooks and corners of bush and rook scenery, of extreme beauty and interest. Commencing at the entrance of our noble port, we have a fine view of the Gap, which will ever be remembered in connection with the loss of the Dunbar ; then the South and North Heads, Port Jackson, Watson’s Bay ; the harbour from Fort Macquarie, Government House, Sydney Cove, the Mariners’ Church, Dawes’ Battery, Circular Quay (east), bird’s-eye view of the harbour from Cumberland-street North, also Campbll’s Wharf; from the Flagstaff views are given of Balmain, Miller’s Point, and Parramatta River, Fort street, Sydney (east), all the principal churches, the Fitz-Roy Dry Dock, at the time H. M. S. Herald was there undergoing a thorough overhauling ; the various banks and public buildings, there being two prints of the University amongst the number ; from Balmain two views of Sydney have been taken ; there is also a view of Balmain and one of Pyrmont; going down the harbour again, some of the bays and indentations are introduced ; not the least interesting portion of the series is that which shows the streets, of which six only have been taken as yet, viz., George-street, Bent-street, and the Australian Club ; Macquarie-street (two views), showing prominently the Australian Library, the Free Church, land Council Chambers ; Bridge-street, with the Exchange as a prominent feature; and Hunter-street from George-street, with the premises of the Sydney Morning Herald in the perspective. To colonists at home these views will prove a great treat : and accordingly, we understand that the demand for complete sets, as they appear, has been very great ….’