PRETTY YOUNG WOMAN IN SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA (PORTRAIT BY HENRY WALTER BARNETT)

A pretty young woman poses for her portrait at the Falk studio in Sydney, Australia. She is beautifully dressed, and has an attractive figure (give an assist to her corset). The photographer of this image was quite well known in his time. Henry Walter Barnett (1862-1934) was born in St. Kilda, Victoria. His parents were London-born Jews. Barnett began his career as an assistant to photographer Robert Stewart in 1875. When he was 21 years old he set up a studio in Hobart. He sold it to his partner in 1884 and went to London where he joined society photographers W. & D. Downey (click on cabinet card gallery category “Photographer: W & D Downey” to see some of their photographs). He returned to Australia and opened the Falk Studios in Sydney in 1887. He quickly became of the leading portrait photographers in the country. The Australian Dictionary of Biography states that “he was distinguished for his ability to bring out bone-structure and texture of the skin.” He was known as a perfectionist and he employed the most skilled craftsmen to work in his studio. He was said to have a flair for conducting business, paying little attention to cost. However, he asked “unheard-of-fees” for his services. Among his sitters were many celebrities, including Sarah Bernhardt and many other theatrical stars. In 1889 he married 20 year-old Hilda (Ella) Frances Clement Forbes”. The couple became known for their lavish entertaining. In 1896 Barnett became involved in early Australian Cinematography when he filmed scenes of the Melbourne Cup. In 1897 Barnett relocated to London where he operated a studio at Hyde Park Corner and later at Knightsbridge. His subjects included many royals and high society individuals. In 1920 Barnett sold his studio and retired in Southern France. He could not rest long and soon was involved in the collection and sale of contemporary French art.

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