Skip to main content

Sidney Kidman and Arthur Triggs
, c. 1914

by Falk Studios

gelatin silver photograph (frame: 102 x 81.5 cm, mount: 86.3 x 65.8 cm, image: 56 x 42.6 cm)

Arthur Triggs (1868–1936), pastoralist and collector, is sometimes described as the ‘Kidman of the wool industry’. Triggs came to Australia aged nineteen and worked as an accountant in Yass before buying his first 8,000 wethers. From 1897 on, masterminding his operations from the New South Wales town of Yass, he bought and leased properties studded along lines from Bourke to Kiandra, establishing a pattern of running between 250,000 and 500,000 sheep and some cattle at any one time. It became a truism that when Triggs prospered, so did Yass. In 1915, through the combination of drought and war, he went bankrupt, but by 1921 he had paid off all his creditors with interest, cementing his reputation for professional integrity. Triggs travelled frequently to London, where he indulged his serious passions for prints and drawings, old books and manuscripts and coins, while his wife bought magnificent old lace. Walter Spencer, a London book dealer who catered to wealthy international customers such as the pickle magnate Henry Heinz, stated in his memoir Forty Years in My Bookshop that he had known ‘no more enthusiastic collector than Mr Triggs’. According to Spencer, Triggs’s great ambition was to establish a museum at Yass of his material relating to Charles Dickens. Although his dream of a museum of Dickensiana came to naught, Triggs was a generous contributor to the development of Yass’s more conventional public institutions. It is not known how Triggs and Sidney Kidman came to be standing together in a photographer’s studio, nor what – if anything – is written on the paper they appear to be studying so intently.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased with funds provided by The Ian Potter Foundation 2007
Accession number: 2007.47