Australian Women's Register

An initiative of The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) in conjunction with The University of Melbourne

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Smith, Mrs William (1848? - 1925?)

Born
1848?
Died
1925?
Occupation
Photographer
Alternative Names
  • Andrews, Susan (Birth name?)
  • Rawson, Elizabeth Teena (Birth name?)

Summary

Mrs William Smith was an award-winning photographer who was well known for her photograph of The Snake Charmer, 1909.

Details

A number of possible records exist that refer to Mrs William Smith. One records her as born in 1848 at Bridgman as Susan Andrews, the daughter of Mr Abraham Andrews. She married Mr Ross, with whom she had four children, and then married Mr William Smith and had a further five children. These Smiths lived in Hunter Street, Camberwell, where Smith died in 1925, aged 77 (Singleton Argus). A second record refers to an Elizabeth Teena Rawson, who married Fred William Smith in Victoria, c.1901. Records show that she died in Victoria c.1920 and was buried at the Boort cemetery.

Exactly which of these is the Mrs William Smith known for her photographic work is unclear. It is also unknown when she developed an interest in photography. However, by 1907, her photographic skills were well developed and of a standard that saw her photographs exhibited in the Exhibition of Women's Work in 1907, as well as the Victorian Photographic Affiliation Exhibition in 1909, in which she won first prize in the architectural and the genre section.

Mrs Smith's photograph, The Snake Charmer, c.1909, was reproduced in the Australasian Photo-Review and much commented on at the time. One critic commented: '[w]ho cannot realise the thrill of the spectators in Mrs William Smith's picture, The Snake Charmer … It presents artistically but faithfully all the garish opulence of the glare of the midday sun. It contravenes many pet principles of photography; it shows hard lights and black shadows, but it is art all the same and there is no doubt it is true' (APR, 1909; cited by Hall 45)

Events

1907
Exhibition - Mrs William Smith's work featured in the Exhibition of Women's Work. Location: Melbourne, Victoria.
c. 1907 - 1909
Active as amateur photographer
1909
Exhibition and prize for first place - Mrs William Smith's work won first prize in both the architectural and the genre section of the Victorian Photographic Affiliation Exhibition, Victorian Artists Gallery

Sources used to compile this entry: Bee, Queen, Women Photographers, The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic.), 13 February 1909, 43. pp, http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/139688515; Hall, Barbara and Mather, Jenni, Australian Women Photographers 1840 - 1960, Greenhouse Publications, Richmond, Victoria, 1986, 164 pp.

Anne Maxwell (with Morfia Grondas and Lucy Van)

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