Royal Agricultural Show of 1897. PANORAMA, ROYAL AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY OF NEW SOUTH WALES.

Royal Agricultural Show of 1897.

Sydney: N.S.W. Government Printer, 1897.

Five-panel panoramic photograph, highlighted by hand, laid down on canvas, 390 x 3490 mm.; some wear and staining to canvas backing, very lightly cracked at one joint, but overall in very good condition.

Photographic Panorama of the Sydney Agricultural Show

A rare very large panoramic photograph of the Royal Agricultural Show of 1897.

A rare very large panoramic photograph of the Royal Agricultural Show of 1897.
The image is taken during the grand parade with the scoreboard in the background revealing details such as the fact that the Tattersalls Plate was due to be run at 2.30 pm, and the "Best Boy" rider to follow at 3. It is such extraordinary detail, displaying all of the activity and bustle of the show as well as the great splendour of the Moore Park grounds, that gives the image its real charm. In the background, for instance, the Cinematographe appears to be doing a good trade, while the hoardings and billboards are full of familiar names from the period, including Fry's Cocoa, Tooths Ale, and the omnipresent Anthony Horderns (Samuel Hordern himself, as the printed list of office holders attests, was a vice-president of the RAS).
The society which would become the Sydney Royal Agricultural Society commenced operations in 1822, when a group of leading citizens including Samuel Marsden and John Piper decided to further 'the quality of Australia's primary production by means of contests and competitions'. Their first show was held in Parramatta the following year, but by 1836 waning support led to the Society lapsing. It was not until they reformed in 1857 that the group really gained momentum, with exhibitions held at Parramatta until 1868, followed by a 13-year stint at Prince Alfred Park. Finally in 1880, with funds in disarray, the Society accepted government support, and was able to move to the famous venue at Moore Park, home of the show from 1882 through to 1998.
This image was taken in 1897, the culmination of a decade of great expansion for the show. In 1891, Queen Victoria granted the Society permission for the use of the "Royal" prefix. Perhaps even more significantly, 1894 also saw the introduction of electric lighting, meaning that the show could open for the first time at night (although the other great innovation, showbags, appears to have not been introduced until around 1900).
The site was well-suited to this panoramic style of photography. The rudiments of panoramic photography were experimented with as early as the 1840s, extending on the established success of early panorama and diorama presentations. The invention of the wet-plate collodion process in the 1860s led to giant advances in the field, but it was the 1888 invention of flexible film which revolutionised the process, and led to a distinct vogue for the unusual photographic style.
This piece, executed by the Government Printing Office, is uncommon, especially in such fine condition. An even larger version of the photograph featured in the State Library of New South Wales' exhibition and online catalogue, Eye 4 Photography (2005). It is offered complete with a printed listing of the office bearers for the Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales and the Metropolitan Exhibition.

Price (AUD): $14,000.00  other currencies     Ref: #3504681