Collections-in-Focus, Treasures Gallery

Woman looking into camera
Final days

Elegant, bold and often experimental, Melbourne photographer Athol Shmith (1914–1990) worked in fashion, theatre, advertising and portraiture for decades. Shmith's have been called 'perhaps the finest of all Australian fashion photographs'. He is said to have directed every aspect of a shoot, whether at his studio at the 'Paris end' of Collins Street, at friends' houses or outdoors. Much of his work was for Melbourne boutiques Le Louvre and La Petite, as well as for Myer.

In 1979, Shmith gave the Library a large collection of his prints, negatives and transparencies. Most are fashion photographs and came with few details on why or when they were taken. He later visited the Library and identified many of the models. 

This small exhibition, drawn entirely from the Library's collections, showcases his fashion photography.

Image: Athol Shmith (1914–1990), Dawn Didriksen 1960s, gelatin silver photograph; 49.5 x 56.7 cm, Pictures Collection,, © The Estate of Athol Shmith, Courtesy Kalli Rolfe Contemporary Art