photos and stories from the Powerhouse Museum
This image is a classic family portrait showing aviation pioneer Lawrence Hargrave, posed with his wife Margaret, their five children, family companion and governess. From left to right; Suzan Shephard (who lived with the family from 12 to 65 years of age, originally as a maid), Geoffrey Hargrave, Margaret Hargrave (seated) Margaret Hargrave, daughter (standing at rear), Helen Anne “Nellie” Hargrave (standing at front), Lawrence Hargrave, governess (name unknown), Brenda Olive Hargrave (on governess’s knee) and Hilda Hargrave.
The family are dressed in their best clothes and arranged formally with father standing at the back and mother seated surrounded by the children. As was the fashion of the time no one is smiling. This photograph was taken outside presumably for the light but studio portraits were also produced at the time.
Family portraits remain popular to this day with many families seeking the services professional photographers to produce the images framed on the living room wall. Although today’s portraits are less formal you can be sure that clothes worn on the day are carefully selected and of course smiling is now mandatory. Like the Lawrence family portrait taken 118 years ago, the modern family portrait is intended to last.
A note on the reverse of this portrait states that it was taken on the day of the famous kite lift experiment at Stanwell Park. The Museum holds an extensive archive of material about Lawrence Hargrave as well as objects and reproductions of his kites.
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