'Scenes of the Murray River'. A vintage albumen paper photograph (137 x 200 mm) on the original thin brown card mount (230 x 288 mm), with the title, the photographer's details and a plain border printed in gilt. The scene depicted is a full-framed image of a group of four Indigenous adults, a young white girl and a dog posed in front of a solid but crudely-built bark-roofed log hut, with a large dog dozing in the foreground
Apart from the title, the full particulars are 'Fine Art Photograph. N.J. Caire, Photo., Prize Medallist.... Central Depot: No. 11 Royal Arcade, Melbourne. Laboratory and Office: No. 2 Darling Street, South Yarra'. Davies and Stanbury ('The Mechanical Eye in Australia. Photography, 1841-1900') list Caire at the former address from 1880-84, and at the latter from 1885-88, suggesting this image dates from the 1880s. Both the photograph and mount are in fine condition. Nicholas John Caire (1837-1918) was born in Guernsey; his family emigrated to South Australia in 1858 and he began working for Townsend Duryea soon after his arrival in Adelaide. He travelled with his camera through Gippsland in 1865, set up a studio in Adelaide in 1866 and 'moved to the more lucrative Victorian gold-mining towns of Bendigo and Talbot in about 1869 where he specialised in wet-plate scenic views. In 1876 he purchased Thomas Chuck's ... business in the Royal Arcade in Bourke Street, Melbourne, and his view trade flourished'. Not long after this he became 'one of the first photographers to create literary and narrative photographs about the lives of the pioneers' (Dictionary of Australian Artists. Painters, Sketchers, Photographers and Engravers to 1870). Artist and photo-historian Ken Orchard, in an address at the first One River Symposium held at Goolwa in October 2012 ('The Murray River. A Personal View'), stated that 'In the nineteenth century legions of explorers, artists, and photographers captured the river in images, and provide us with vital evidence of the importance of the river in the ongoing formation of our national identity. Gifted views photographer Nicholas Caire has left us with some of the most incomparably poised and memorable photographs of the river'.