L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Young gentlemen of Whanganui - photographs from the studio of William James Harding, New Zealand, circa 1856 - 1889

This is the same sitter as in the photograph above.


William James Harding (19 September 1826, Southampton, England - 13 May 1899, Sydney), photographer with a studio in Whanganui, New Zealand. He was born in England, one of eight children, the son of a cooper. He was working as a coachbuilder when he married in 1853; he and his wife would also have eight children. The couple arrived in New Zealand two years later, two of Harding's brothers having already emigrated. Settling in Whanganui, he worked briefly as a cabinet-maker, but by the following year had established a photographic studio. The studio was soon moved to a two-storied, corrugated-iron building on Ridgway Street. Harding was apparently a gentle and pious man who found it difficult to cope with the increasing competition from other photographers in town. And he was more interested in landscape work than in the more profitable portraiture. Even supplementing his income by doing odd jobs like electroplating and carpentry, he endured frequent financial difficulties, at one stage even filing bankruptcy. The family's survival was largely due to his wife, who had established a successful school on their arrival in town, and also gave music and dancing lessons. With ever more competition from other studios and dwindling income, in 1889 he sold the studio and he and his wife went to Sydney to live with a daughter. In his studio he left behind more than 6,000 negatives of settlers and landscapes in the region, images which are an unequalled record of the colonial experience. The negatives are held in the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, and the Wanganui Regional Museum.

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