This photograph was taken by James Bray who worked as a professional photographer in Camp Street Beechworth from 1870-1891. He was one of four men who photographed the Kelly gang after the siege in Glenrowan in 1880. He is also renowned for his previous work photographing members of the Kelly gang. The photograph depicts pieces of the Kelly gang's armour crafted from plough mouldboards which are arranged on the ground. The exact relation of each piece of armour to the Kelly members was unclear for many years following the siege because the suits were disassembled without documentation and rearranged by guesswork. It was through photographs like this one, which depict the armour very soon after the siege that enabled researchers, in 2002, to reunite each of the suits with their correct pieces.
This image is identified as a "Cabinet Portrait". This refers to a photograph mounted on a hard piece of cardboard. They are larger and thicker than the Carte de Visite and gradually replaced the latter in popularity after the 1860s. Identifying features of the Cabinet Portrait is on the front of the image which is generally embossed (or printed) with the details of the photographer. In the case of this image, James Bray is identified as photographer. The image is yellow in tone which compliments the gold coloured mount of the photograph.
This photograph is part of the Burke Museum "Kelly album" which includes a significant collection of photographs and artefacts connected to Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang. Ned Kelly and his gang have become ingrained in Australian popular culture and thus many museums, art galleries and private collections house material connected to the Kelly story which allows the events and people to be researched and interpreted.
Artefacts and photographs pertaining to the Kelly gang are particularly valuable for Australian museums. This particular photograph is significant for its connection to Beechworth photographer James Bray who is responsible for many images depicting members of the Kelly gang. The photograph is also of artistic significance as an example of a Cabinet Portrait dating to 1880. This image was commissioned by the police shortly after the defeat of the Kelly gang at Glenrowan. The armour was collected and placed on the ground for photography. No care was taken to retain the correct grouping of the armour and therefore, the identity of each piece to the correct owner was unclear for many years. Photographs of the armour taken at the time, like this one, helped researchers to reconstruct the correct armour and identify which pieces belonged to which member of the Kelly gang which is significant for Australian history. This photograph has the capacity to provide important information about the construction of the armour used by the Kelly gang at Glenrowan and importantly dates to 1880.
Sepia rectangular photograph printed on card
Inscriptions & markings
Mrs. E. E. Smith /
Loch St. /
JAMES E. BRAY /
R. & M. HARVEY /
AUTHORISED NEWSAGENTE /
AND GIFT SHOP /
BEECHWORTH PHONE 114 /
(upside down) P/C Neg /
--np of armour & / (torn sticker with)fle.
Ned Kellys Rifle