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Butler, Amelia (1879 - 1941)

Born
1879
New South Wales, Australia
Died
1941
New South Wales, Australia
Occupation
Professional photographer
Alternative Names
  • Brauer, Amelia
  • Morris, Amelia

Summary

Amelia Butler lived and worked in Tenterfield, NSW during the 1890s. Although she went on to become a successful studio photographer based in Sydney, Butler is best known for the photographs she took of Tenterfield and the surrounding districts in the 1890s.

Details

There is some uncertainty around the photographer Amelia Butler's identity after marriage. She was either Amelia Morris (née Butler, 1879-1941) or Amelia Brauer (née Butler, 1885-c.1914-1917), both of whom were born and married in Tenterfield (Design and Art Australia Online).

Her father, Alfred B. Butler, was a photographer who migrated to New South Wales from England and began working for the NSW Government. In 1886 he was commissioned to travel to Tenterfield, near the border of Queensland, to document the building of the Sydney to Queensland railway line. Following this expedition he decided to move back there and establish his own photographic studio.

Amelia was the only daughter in the family and was chosen by her father, ahead of her brothers, to follow in his footsteps; she began her apprenticeship with him at an early age. Her earliest work can be found in four photo albums that she and her father produced. The well-composed, 'richly toned' work shows her strong technical ability and creativity (Hall 27). Butler's photography includes signed portraits, cartes-de-visite and views that document station life, Indigenous peoples and the local landscape.

One of her photographs, Snowfall, 1895, captures a rare meteorological occurrence when it snowed in the town. A group of people are gathered together enjoying the occasion, with one figure holding a tripod and camera posing for Butler's camera.

When her father retired she took over his studio, even though one of her brothers had also become a photographer.

Although Amelia married and had five (possibly more) children, she continued working as a photographer and running the studio.

She eventually moved to Sydney and established a studio there; her brother took over the Tenterfield studio, which he renamed 'Butler Brothers.' Amelia is said to have returned to Tenterfield in 1934 with her camera.

Amelia died in 1941, aged 62.

Collections

Collection of the Tenterfield and District Historical Society Museum, Tenterfield, New South Wales

State Library of Victoria

Events

c. 1890 - c. 1940
Active as professional photographer. Location: Tenterfield and Sydney, NSW

Sources used to compile this entry: 'Amelia Butler', in Design and Art Australia Online, https://www.daao.org.au/bio/amelia-butler/; Hall, Barbara and Mather, Jenni, Australian Women Photographers 1840 - 1960, Greenhouse Publications, Richmond, Victoria, 1986, 164 pp. Includes the following photographs by Amelia Butler Group in the Snow, n.d. Tenterfield Album, Tenterfield and District Historical Society Museum, p.28; Picnic Group, n.d., Tenterfield Album, Tenterfield and District Historical Society Museum, p.28; Thrashing, n.d., Tenterfield Album, Tenterfield and District Historical Society Museum, p.27..

Digital resources

Title
[Full-length Portrait of an Aboriginal Group, Comprising Six Men, Four Women and Four Children].
Type
Image
Date
1895
Creator
Butler, Amelia
Control
H18599/2
Source
State Library of Victoria

Details

Anne Maxwell (with Morfia Grondas and Lucy Van)

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

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