Glass plate negative (1 of 193), portrait of an articulated skeleton on a bentwood chair, glass, photographer possibly Arthur Phillips, Australia, c. 1895-1905
This collection of glass plate negatives was acquired by the Museum in the 1980s and appears to have been made by a Sydney based photographic studio from around 1880 through to 1920. The images are on both whole and half plate negatives and many of the larger images are of a high quality.
The subjects covered by the images relate strongly to a number of the Museum's collecting fields. Leisure and the performing arts are represented by a group of unusual boxing and fencing photographs, stage sets and performers, as well as sailing and portrait photos. One of these is a rare composite negative intended for producing Christmas greeting cards.
The numerous images of locations and buildings around Sydney and New South Wales depict the social and economic enterprise of the period. At some time in the 1890s the photographer spent time near Albury and photographed several houses belonging to one family. Other photographs taken outside Sydney include some on the Shoalhaven River, and Como. Sydney Harbour and waterfront scenes, including ship building at Kirribilli, new housing in Willoughby, Neutral Bay and other suburbs, add to a domestic view of Sydney in the period 1880 to 1920.
The Museum has a significant collection of glass plates, such as those held in the Tyrrell and Clyde Engineering collections. This group of negatives complements and strengthens the Museum's holdings of this particular photographic resource.
The photographic glass plate negative was photographed and produced in Australia, c. 1900. There have been suggestions that the Phillips collection of photographs was created by Harry Phillips, (1873-1944), an early twentieth century photographer born in Ballarat and best known for his photographs of the Blue Mountains. Recent museum research has shown that the photographer Harry J. Phillips, the uncle of Raymond W. Phillips, was born in Sydney in 1872. There does not appear to be any connection between the families of the Ballarat-born Harry Phillips and Harry J. Phillips.
The donor Raymond Phillips was a rotograver and for many years was responsible for the Australian Women's Weekly cover. His father, Arthur Phillips, was a gold and silver merchant and was possibly the photographer of the glass plate negatives. In 1920, the family moved from Willoughby to Latimer Road, Bellevue Hill. A bachelor, Raymond Phillips remained in the house after his parents' death. The slides were found in a deal box in the garage.