Henry F. Stone and his Durham ox
English born photographer and portrait painter Thomas
Flintoff arrived in Australia from the United States in 1853.
Drawn to the Victorian goldfields, Flintoff soon established a tent
studio in Main Road, Ballarat. In this and a later studio in
Ballarat, Flintoff offered his clientele portraits in either
the old or new mediums. After the destruction of his
second Ballarat business by fire in 1872, Flintoff
moved to Melbourne where he continued to paint portraits such as
this of Henry Frederick Stone, a prosperous butcher and dairy
farmer who owned properties in Essendon and Footscray
northwest of Melbourne.
Executed at a time when photography had largely superseded
traditional portrait painting, Stone is depicted alongside
his massively proportioned ox. The emphasis here is on the owner's
status and prosperity as Stone, who is dressed in a top hat and
over coat, points to the oversized bovine. Despite having been
painted towards the end of the 19th century, this painting has all
the characteristics of the traditional "conversation piece"
portrait of the 18th century, except that the subject in this
painting is showing off his ox rather than his spouse.