HETZER, William fl. 1850-67
View of Millers Point, Parramatta River from the Flagstaff, Sydney, 1858-59.
Stereoscopic albumen print photograph, each individual image 80 x 77 mm (arched format), original plain greyish buff mount 84 x 172 mm, verso with studio label printed in blue ‘Stereoscopic Views of Sydney and Environs by W. Hetzer, Photographic Artist, 287 George Street, Sydney, N.S.W.’ and an accompanying contemporary caption in ink ‘Millers Point – Parramatta River, from the Flagstaff, Sydney’; both albumen prints have some very light marks in the sky area of the image, but are otherwise in fine condition, with good tonal range and sharp detail; the mount is free from foxing.
This view looks northwest over Millers Point from Flagstaff Hill, with the upper portions of buildings along Kent Street – most notably the Lord Nelson Hotel at right – in the middle ground. A little to the left and beyond the Lord Nelson we can make out the sign on the side of the Whalers Arms Hotel, on the corner of Lower Fort Street and Windmill Street.
William 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; a journalist’s review in The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 May 1859, stated that there were ‘now upwards of sixty slides’ commercially available, and that amonst these ‘from the Flagstaff views are given of Balmain, Miller’s Point and Parramatta River’. The view we offer here clearly belongs to this latter group taken from the Flagstaff, which allows us to assign it a date of 1859 (or even 1858) with some confidence.
The State Library of New South Wales holds a hand coloured example of this view (call no. PXB 698 / file no. FL657096) which it dates to 1858; the National Library of Australia holds a non-coloured example; the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales (Caroline Simpson Research Library and Collection) holds one of its companion views, showing Balmain from the Flagstaff (46577).