Photo of the Day

photos and stories from the Powerhouse Museum

The empty bottle

December 9th, 2014 by


This photograph, from the Jandaschewsky collection, shows Arthur Jandaschewsky as Jandy the Clown. The photograph is likely to have been used for publicity purposes,

Jandy performed at Sydney’s Tivoli Theatre in the 1930s and 1940s. His performance at Sydney’s Tivoli theatre ended with the musical bottles act. Drinking in turn from a series of bottles, he played a tune until the last bottle was empty and he was decidedly tipsy.

Arthur Jandaschewsky was born Russia in 1884. He came to Australia from Paris with his family for Fitzgerald’s Circus in 1900 and returned ten years later with the Do-Re-Mi musical trio. Later, as Jandy, he was a Tivoli favourite for 25 years, retiring after The Golden Days Revue in 1962.

The Museum holds Arthur Jandaschewsky’s collection of circus costumes and memorabilia some of which will be on display as part of Circus factory.

Other photographs of Jandy have been posted previously on Photo of the Day.


Photographer unknown, Jandaschewsky collection, 95/28/237

refs: Circus! The Jandaschewsky story. Powerhouse Publishing, Sydney, 1996


December 8th, 2014 by


‘Galloper’ is a term for what is commonly called a merry-go-round or carousel. According to Wikipedia, these amusement rides are commonly populated with horses, each horse weighing roughly 45kg, but may include a variety of mounts, like pigs, zebras, tigers, or mythological creatures such as dragons or unicorns. The one shown above was photographed at Fairground Follies in St Peters in preparation for the upcoming Circus factory at the Powerhouse Museum.

Step into the ring of one of the most delightfully daring, spectacularly spectacular feats of showmanship, curiosity, absurdity and intrigue at Circus Factory, opening at the Powerhouse, December 20.

Photography by Marinco Kojdanovski

© All rights reserved.

Harbour snapshot

December 5th, 2014 by


This photograph, from the David Mist archive collection, shows some funlovers on Sydney Harbour c. 1968. The photograph was taken by David Mist for his 1969 publication, Sydney: a book of photographs. The photograph was reproduced in the book as part of a double page spread showing Sydneysiders enjoying life in the sun on the beaches and around the harbour.

Instamatic cameras were inexpensive and widely available in the late 1960s became a popular means of recording leisure activities. The woman in the centre was quick to reciprocate photographer’s gaze.

Photography by David Mist

© All rights reserved

Potts Point and Elizabeth Bay from Lady Macquaries Chair

December 4th, 2014 by


This view of Sydney Harbour from the Tyrrell collection shows some evidence of manipulation of the negative, (see detail below). The photographer may have wanted to better define the little girl’s profile for printing the image as a postcard.

Henry King, (1855-1923) was a successful Sydney photographer best known for his view and portrait work. He won several international medals, including a bronze at the Chicago exhibition of 1893. Many of King’s best known views of Sydney date from the 1880s and by 1890 his work was held in high regard throughout the colonies. The Powerhouse Museum Tyrrell collection includes 1,334 photographs by Henry King


00g01167 detail


Photography by Henry King

Tyrrell Collection, 85/1285-1013

Shoe-fitting fluoroscopic x-ray machine

December 3rd, 2014 by

X-ray ‘Footvision’, CHH2.8/16/1


This studio photograph of a a rather mysterious looking object gives no clue as to its function. The wooden structure is, in fact, a form of photographic technology. Melanie Pitkin, Assistant Curator, writes:

From the 1930s to the 1950s, fluoroscopes were commonly used in shoe stores to X-ray children’s feet with the aim of ensuring a better fit. When children placed their feet inside the machine, the bones of their toes wiggling inside the shoes could be seen through the viewing portals. Fluoroscopes emitted high levels of active radiation and were banned from shoe stores by the 1970s. This one was made by Watson Victor Ltd in Australia, 1950.

This fluroscope is now on display in the upcoming exhibition Recollect: Shoes on show at the Powerhouse Museum until May 2015.


Photography by Sotha Bourn

© All rights reserved

Put on your dancing shoes

December 2nd, 2014 by


This colourful photograph was created especially for the David Jones anniversary last year. The shoes themselves were also designed for the well-known Sydney store. Assistant Curator Melanie Pitkin writes:

These shoes were designed by Palter de Liso in New York for David Jones department store, Sydney.

T-bar shoes with a low to medium heel were a popular style of dance shoe in the 1920s and 1930s. The secure strapped buckle allowed women to freely kick up their heels in energetic new dance styles like the Foxtrot, Quickstep and Charleston. Their bright colours and elaborate designs complemented the glittering beaded dance dresses favoured by the 1920s flapper.

This pair of dance shoes are currently on display in the exhibition Recollect: Shoes on show at the Powerhouse Museum from November 29 until May 2015.

Photography by Sotha Bourn

© All rights reserved

A clown’s makeup

December 1st, 2014 by


The photograph above shows a group of objects from the Jandeschewsky collection. In the photograph is a clown’s hat, make-up case and mirror, arranged in the way that they might have appeared in the dressing room prior to a performance.  The make-up case belonged to Guillaume Jandeschewsky and the scalp wigs were worn by members of the Do-Re-Mi troupe, seen in the photograph posted on Tuesday last week.

The style of make-up and costume worn by clowns has always been important, signifying character in much the same way as masks in the commedia dell’arte tradition. According to the established code, no two clown faces are alike. Before photography, European clowns painted their faces onto egg shells as an informal way of claiming ‘copyright’. Clown costume make-up often passed down through generations of family members, but it was also possible to buy or sell a clown act complete with costume and make-up.

Step into the ring of one of the most delightfully daring, spectacularly spectacular feats of showmanship, curiosity, absurdity and intrigue at Circus Factory, opening at the Powerhouse, December 20.

ref: Circus! The Jandeschewsky Story, Powerhouse Publishing 1996

Photography by Sue Stafford

© All rights reserved

Barrette boots

November 28th, 2014 by


The photograph above has been art directed using some broderie anglaise and lace trimmed petticoats to give a sense of historical fashion context to its subject, the boots. Assistant curator Melanie Pitkin writes:

This pair of buttoned boots with open fronts, termed ‘barrette’, was made by the Joseph Box Company in London, England in the 1890s. Consisting of 13 straps fastened with buttons and embroidered with jet beads, the multiple straps create a decorative effect; giving a tantalising glimpse of the wearer’s stockinged leg. Also characteristic of the boot is the ‘Louis heel’, made famous by Louis XIV’s royal court in the 17th-18th centuries. Apart from giving height and prominence to the wearer, this style of heel also gave the illusion of a shortened foot – a physically desirable attribute of women in the late 1800s-1900s.

This pair of boots will be on display in the exhibition Recollect: Shoes on show at the Powerhouse Museum from November 29 until May 2015. For more information about the boots and other shoes in the collection, see: Stepping Out: three centuries of shoes (Powerhouse Publishing, 2008) pp.46-47


Photography by Sue Stafford

© All rights reserved

It’s all about the shoes

November 27th, 2014 by


This photograph is unmistakably about the shoes. The low angle, shallow depth of field and focus on the shoe draws the viewer’s eye away from the model, who would usually be the centre of attention and directly to the bottom area of the photograph to make the silver shoes really shine. These shoes, called ‘Wannabe’ and designed by Patrick Cox, are part of the Museum’s extensive collection. More photographs of the ‘Wannabe’ shoes can be viewed via the online collection index.

Other shoes from the collection of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences can be seen soon in Recollect: Shoes on show at the Powerhouse Museum from November 29 until May 2015.

Photo: Andrew Frolows

© All rights reserved

Do-Re-Mi clowns

November 26th, 2014 by


This photograph from the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences’ Jandeschewsky collection shows Orlando, Guillaume and Eugene ‘Averino’ as the trio Do-Re-Mi performing a musical clown entree about 1895. Musical clown routines generally involve one clown as a competent musician and one or more foils who interrupt with discordant attempts to join in the concert. No precise descriptions of the Do-Re-Mi acts survive, but it is likely that many of their entrees would have fitted this scenario.

The Do-Re-Mi clowns wore baggy, all-in-one clown suits decorated with ornate appliques, metal sequins and lace attachments similar to one held in the  Museum’s collection and currently on display. Wearing a white face and a white scalp wig, each clown had a large red mouth, a red pompom balanced on top of his head and a bright red nose.

Step into the ring of one of the most delightfully daring, spectacularly spectacular feats of showmanship, curiosity, absurdity and intrigue at Circus Factory, opening at the Powerhouse, December 20.

Photographer unknown

ref: Circus! The Jandaschewsky Story, Powerhouse Publishing 1996

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