Mug shot of Thomas Maria, Arthur Wyatt, and Patrick Dangar (alias Brosnan), Central Police Station, ca. 1920.
Special Photograph no. 182. The serial numbers of this and the 'Mug shot of Elsie Hall, Dulcie Morgan, Jean Taylor' run in sequence, suggesting they were taken on the same day and, judging from the lighting, at the same time of day. None of the names appears in the Police Gazette except for Dangar, which turns out to be an alias for Owen Patrick Brosnan, (also known as Brosnahan, or Brosner), a false pretender and 'suspected person'. An earlier mug shot of Brosnan shows him to be not the man on the right in this group of three, as inscribed, but rather the offhand individual in the centre, here identified as 'A Wyatt'.
This picture is one of a series of around 2500 "special photographs" taken by New South Wales Police Department photographers between 1910 and 1930. These "special photographs" were mostly taken in the cells at the Central Police Station, Sydney and are, as curator Peter Doyle explains, of "men and women recently plucked from the street, often still animated by the dramas surrounding their apprehension". Doyle suggests that, compared with the subjects of prison mug shots, "the subjects of the Special Photographs seem to have been allowed - perhaps invited - to position and compose themselves for the camera as they liked. Their photographic identity thus seems constructed out of a potent alchemy of inborn disposition, personal history, learned habits and idiosyncrasies, chosen personal style (haircut, clothing, accessories) and physical characteristics."