Victorian era black and white headshots, freckled woman wearing a high neck collar with a white ruffle, man has a magnificent moustache and side-whiskers that extend to his shoulders. Between skin & shirt: The photographic portraits of William Harding.

Between skin & shirt: The photographic portraits of William Harding

26 May to 29 October 2022 | National Library Gallery, Ground floor
Mon to Fri – 9am to 5pm | Sat – 9am to 1pm
Free entry

The photographic portraits William Harding took in his Whanganui studio from the 1850s to the 1880s come to us with such startling immediacy that we find ourselves looking, it seems, at someone we might know.

Explore ‘Between skin & shirt’ online

Explore the world of William Harding at the Alexander Turnbull Library.

This online exhibition was created to accompany the exhibition of William Harding portraits held at the Library from 26 May to 29 October 2022.

Online exhibition — ‘Between skin & shirt: The photographic portraits of William Harding’

Looking at Harding’s portraits

French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson said that ‘The most difficult thing … is a portrait. You have to try and put your camera between the skin of a person and his shirt’. William Harding achieves just that.

Harding diligently applied his art to reveal the person behind the formality of appearances. In the setting of his studio, his subjects are luminous.

The portraits in this exhibition have been selected from the nationally significant Harding collection of over 6,500 glass-plate negatives held by the Alexander Turnbull Library.

Find yourself in the Harding collection

Take a selfie and find out who you most resemble from the William Harding collection!

The exhibition includes a digital display of all the portraits which give the exhibition a dynamic, sculptural dimension. Visitors can take a selfie and their face will be matched with one in the collection, which will then appear on a 3-metre-high hanging screen.

Black and white Victorian-era studio photograph of a woman wearing a jacket with a sailor boy collar, a matching skirt and a ruffled high neck blouse. She has a Mona Lisa smile.
Unidentified woman, by William James Harding, 1870 to 1889. Ref: 1/4-007382-G. Alexander Turnbull Library.

‘Between skin & shirt’ in the media

Wellington exhibition features work of 1800s Whanganui photographer William Harding — Whanganui Chronicle

Digital dimension sure to delight at new portrait exhibition — National Library media release


‘Between skin & shirt: The photographic portraits of William Harding’ is proudly sponsored by the Turnbull Endowment Trust, Te Puna Foundation and Stout Trust.

Three logos, Stout Trust, Turnbull Endowment Trust est 1934 and Te Puna Foundation.