Max DUPAIN, Portrait in mirrors Enlarge 1 /1


Australia 1911 – 1992

Portrait in mirrors 1938 Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph

Primary Insc: signed recto, l.r., pencil, "- Max Dupain -"; not dated titled & signed verso, u.c, pencil, "Portrait in mirrors/Max Dupain"
Dimensions: printed image 37.5 h x 50.3 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1983
Accession No: NGA 83.1338

Dupain opened his own studio in 1934 and soon began to attract public attention and patronage, with clients including David Jones, Amalgamated Wireless Australasia (AWA), Lustre Lingerie and The Home magazine. He quickly, certainly within the context of Australian commercial photography and publishing at the time, became recognised for experimental work which often brought together classical motifs, surrealist style, cinematic lighting and attributes drawn from popular photography. This multiple portrait of a model wearing a black back-strapped dress draws on a photographic convention which was common to late nineteenth-century popular photography. Commercial studios and amusement park photographers made five-way portrait image by sitting the subject in front of a hinged mirror. Dupain’s care and skill, imparting to the image an intensity and stillness, lifts this image far above clever conceit.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra