Born in England in 1833, James Bragge began his working life as an apprentice cabinet-maker. By the 1860s professional photography was booming, and Bragge seized the opportunity to change careers.
Bragge arrived in New Zealand soon after and by late 1866 he was establishing his Wellington business. The carte de visite (or visiting cards – small portrait images) were a mainstay of photographers of the day, and Bragge produced many, including some strong portraits of unidentified Māori.
In the 1870s, Wellington was undergoing rapid change under the Vogel administration. Bragge photographed the city over a period of years from the same viewpoints, leaving a valuable record of the growth of the new capital, the reclamation of land around the harbour, and the proliferation of substantial new buildings.
James Bragge (1833 – 1908)
Black and white photography,
All images are in the collection of Aratoi Wairarapa Museum of Art and History.
Gift of Friends of Aratoi.