Australia in 142 Photographic Illustrations after a Decade of Experiences
William Blandowski (1822−78) was a pioneer in many ways. Born in Gleiwitz, Upper Silesia (present-day Gliwice, Poland), he went to Australia in 1849 to compile "a natural history, a botanical classification, and a geological arrangement of this country." He joined an early gold rush in Victoria, where he invented a powerful water pump. Blandowski went on several expeditions, on which he collected numerous specimens and attempted to compile the first checklist of the mammals and birds of Victoria. His drawings are notable for their accuracy and artistic value. Largely unknown is his application of the newly invented technology of photography for scientific purposes. This album, created as the author's copy after his return to Germany from Australia, contains Blandowski’s album of photographic prints of drawings and engravings (only some are strictly speaking photographs), together with handwritten annotations and some plates from the portfolio of his unpublished book Australia Terra Cognita (today in the State Library of New South Wales, Mitchell Collection). Only the pamphlet with Blandowski’s annotations, minus the prints, was printed by Gustav Neumann in Gleiwitz (1862), which explains why only two copies of the album are known to exist: the author’s copy in Berlin (text and prints) and an incomplete copy with the prints only in the Haddon Library, at the University of Cambridge. This rudimentary publication marks Blandowski’s final effort as an Australian natural historian. When it failed and nearly bankrupted him, he gave up and established himself as a studio photographer in Gleiwitz.
Gustav Neumann, Gleiwitz, Germany
Title in Original Language
Australien in 142 photographischen Abbildungen nach zehnjährigen Erfahrungen
Type of Item
- L.K. Paszkowski, “Blandowski, William (1822−1878),” in Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 3 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1969.)
Last updated: July 8, 2015