DAVIS, William Henry

William Henry Davis
Wellington - Nelson - Christchurch

William Henry Davis was the son of William Henry Whitmore Davis who was also a photographer. He married firstly on 15 May 1859 at Wellington to Catherine Henrietta Williams she later died in Sydney.

Lyttelton Times, Volume XI, Issue 683, 25 May 1859, Page 4

In 1860 he married Jane Sclander Burns and following her death in 1870 he married Catherine Chamberlain. He died on 30 August 1875.

Photography. — It is now more than twenty years ago that specimens of a new and mysterious art were first exhibited to our wondering gaze. They consisted of a few heads of elderly gentlemen, executed in a bistre-like colour upon paper. The heads were not above an inch long, they were little more than patches of broad light and shade, they showed no attempt to idealize or soften the harshnesses and accidents of a rather rugged style of physiognomy — on the contrary, the eyes were decidedly contracted, the mouth expanded, and the lines and wrinkles intensified. Nevertheless we examined them with the keenest admiration, and felt that the spirit of Rembrandt had revived.

Before that time little was the existence of a power, availing itself of the eye of the sun, both to discern and execute, suspected by the world, still less that it had long lain the unclaimed and unnamed legacy of our own Sir Humphry Davy. Since then photography has become a household word and a household want; is used alike by art and science; by love, business and justice; is found in the most sumptuous saloon, and in the dingiest attic; in the solitude of the Highland cottage, and in the glare of the London gin palace; in the pocket of the detective; in the folio of the painter and architect; among the papers and patterns of the mill owner and manufacturer; and on the cold brave breast on the battlefield.

Nelson may be said to be particularly favoured in the facilities it affords for gratifying the universal desire for the possession of specimens of this delightful art, for we have four or five photographers resident amongst us, each excelling suo genere. We alluded a short time since, in eulogistic terms, to the beautiful views of Nelson and its environs, lately taken by Mr. Fletcher; we now desire to direct attention to some equally exquisite specimens of the art, in the form of portraits, taken by the photographic art, and finished by the pencil, which are now to be seen at the establishment of Mr. Davis, in Hardy-street.

Portraits, as is evident to any thinking mind, and as photography now proves, belong to that class of facts wanted by numbers who know and care nothing about their value as works of art. For this want, art, even of the most abject kind, was, whether as regards correctness, promptitude, and price, utterly inadequate. These ends are not only now attained, but, even in an artistic sense, attained far better than before. The coloured portraits which Mr. Davis has produced are a most satisfactory coalition between the artist and the machine. Many an inferior miniature-painter who understands the mixing and applying of pleasing tints, may be wholly unskilled in the true drawing of the human head. With this deficiency supplied, these present productions, therefore, are far superior to anything that could have been accomplished by artists, single-handed, before.

Photographs, coloured by hand, from nature, such as may be seen at the atelier of Mr. Davis, are all that can be needed to satisfy the mere portrait-want, and may, moreover, be regarded as artistic productions of no ordinary kind. We desire more especially at the present moment to call attention to these exquisitely-coloured photographs, because we are informed that Mr. Davis purposes leaving Nelson for England at an early date. Persons, therefore, who desire to avail themselves of his assistance, in order to secure portraits, either of themselves or their friends, should lose no time in doing so.

Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle,
Volume XXIII, Issue 105, 1 September 1864, Page 2

Star, Issue 1804, 9 December 1873, Page 1

From the Press Agency - Auckland Sept 2.

Davis, who jumped overboard from the s.s. Hawea, was a photographer, son of Mr Davis, photographer, of Melbourne. He leaves a wife and three children here totally unprovided for. The rash act was attributed to straightened circumstances and depression from religious mania.

The Star, Issue 2329, 3 September 1875, Page 2

Taken at Christchurch 19 November 1874 W.H. Henning. (possibly William Henry Henning, the husband of Lucy Nalder and brother-in-law of Charles Allan Nalder)

Charles Allan Nalder
born at Long Ashton, Somerset, England July 25th 1848.
son of George William Nalder (solicitor) and Marianne Nalder nee Cooper.
drowned at Akaroa, Canterbury, New Zealand January 9th 1875.

Mrs T.W. Hislop

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