Caire, Nicholas


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(1837–1918) was one of Australia's best-known and most influential early landscape photographers. He arrived in SA from Guernsey with his family in 1858, and by 1867 was operating a photographic studio in Adelaide. By 1871 he was established in Bendigo, Victoria. His 1875 series, Views of Bendigo, was extremely successful; it emboldened him to move to Melbourne, where he produced the Views of Victoria (General Series), which also sold well. The rapidly expanding railway system of the 1880s made it easier for Caire to reach the bush. It was around this time that he began the rural genre photos which reflected and reinforced the emerging nationalism of the period. The bush workers and battling settlers in his photos are heroic in their ‘typical’ Australianness. Caire gave up studio work to concentrate on landscape photography. He preferred lush forest areas, and worked around Gippsland, Healesville, Marysville, and Mount Buffalo, which provided the fern glades and huge trees that he favoured. His photos were used by the Victorian Railways in tourist promotions and appeared frequently in Melbourne's leading illustrated newspapers. The postcard craze of the early 1900s provided an enormous market for his scenes. Upon his death the Bulletin asserted that ‘in his photographic way he was an explorer’.

From The Oxford Companion to Australian History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Australasian and Pacific History.

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