Augustus Earle ( 1793 - 1838)

Earle reached Hobart in 1825 on the Admiral Cockburn after being rescued from the remote island of Tristan da Cunha, and spent three years in Australia painting portraits of ‘exclusives’, landscapes and the Aborigines. He spent four months in Van Diemen’s Land and then left in May 1825 for Sydney.

There he quickly established himself as the colony’s leading artist and on the 8 July 1826, Earle advertised the opening of his art gallery at 10 George Street, Sydney, where he offered painting lessons and ‘a large assortment of every description of articles used in Drawing, Painting &c.’ as well as his own pictures. In August 1826 Earle was given a lithographic press by the astronomer James Dunlop that had been brought out by Governor Brisbane, which was probably the first lithographic press in the colony. Earle’s first lithographic attempt was a portrait of the Sydney Aborigine Bungaree. By November he had published the first part of his lithographed views of Sydney, Views in Australia and the second part was issued the following month.

Earle’s views were not a success as no further parts were issued as had been his original intention. There are three known sets of the Sydney printing of these lithographs, all are in institutional collections. On 20 October 1827 he sailed for New Zealand on board the Governor Macquarie, with a view to record its landscape and inhabitants. Thought to be the first professional European artist to take up residence in that country, he stayed for six months, returning to Sydney on board the same vessel on 5 May 1828. On 12 October he left New South Wales forever, embarking on The Rainbow bound for the Caroline Islands.

Back in London in 1829, Earle published his set of lithographic Views in New South Wales, and Van Diemen’s Land (1830). Although more successful than his colonial attempt, all of Earle’s lithographs are extremely rare.

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