Richard Daintree’s Queensland Album
In his Queensland Album, Englishman, geologist and photographer Richard Daintree (1832–1878) provides an outstanding example of 19th-century Australian landscape photography, the photographs being of unprecedented size and quality.
Using the wet-plate process, Daintree focused on the light and shade of volcanic planes, on the layers of ancient rock and marble slabs.
While townships, people, bush track and cleared scrubland are depicted, it is the sublime, untouched landscape that is the focus, not the evidence of human intervention.
Daintree pioneered the use of photography in geological fieldwork while working for the Victorian Geological Survey.
The images in this exhibition were created using the autotype process, then at the cutting edge of image reproduction, giving a beautiful print that did not change colour over time.
The album may have been compiled to promote Queensland overseas, but its true intent is uncertain. It might also have been a gift for family and friends, or a memorial compiled by Daintree’s wife after his death.
Whatever the album’s origins, Daintree’s extraordinary black-and-white images record the grandeur of the land and its scale, its prehistoric structure and vast distances.