The little-known ‘other Sunbaker’ photograph of 1937, ironically the one preferred by photographer Max Dupain over the iconic known version will go on public display from TODAY [Saturday 1 March] at the State Library of NSW.
The only known original print of the first negative of the Sunbaker has been in a family album affectionately called the ‘Camping Album’ for over 60 years, until recently being donated to the State Library under the Cultural Gifts Program.
According to Alan Davies, the State Library’s Curator of Photographs: “This album is the holy grail of Australian photography because it places for the first time the nation’s most iconic photograph, the Sunbaker, in all of its versions and in the context in which it was taken in 1937.”
The first Sunbaker had his hands clasped together and was published just once in 1948 in Hal Missingham’s Max Dupain: photographs. But all known prints, which were made between 1975 and 1991 (when the image became popular) were taken from the second negative, showing the Sunbaker’s right hand relaxed.
“In the album we also see the Sunbaker side on which provides hard proof that the man in the photograph is Englishman Harold Salvage – supposedly the ‘quintessential Australian’ - who joined Max Dupain, Olive Cotton and others including Chris Vandyke, Gladys Harrison and Una and Peter Dodd on their camping trips to Culburra Beach on the South Coast of NSW in 1937,” Mr Davies says.
Tony Vandyke first discovered the album in his dad’s darkroom as a teenager, and has fond memories of “Uncle Max” visiting their Warriewood Beach home after Chris died and looking through the Camping Album with his mum.
Alan Davies and Tony Vandyke are available for interviews. Tony can share anecdotes about his dad Chris’s friendship with Max Dupain and the story of the lost Sunbaker negative.