Gracius Joseph Broinowski (1837 - 1913)

Broinowski was an artist and ornithologist, born in Poland and educated at Munich University where he studied classics, languages and art subjects. To avoid being conscripted into the Russian army, he went to Germany where a period of privation followed both on the Continent and in London, and about 1857 he joined a ship bound for Australia. Experiences at sea appear to have been very trying for him, so that he was glad to swim ashore at Portland, Victoria, and walk into the country. On that journey, according to his own record, he met with the only act of kindness he had received since leaving home: an elderly Scottish lady provided a meal and sent him on his way with ‘new courage’.

He worked in rural Victoria and later found employment with a firm of publishers in Melbourne; he then travelled widely in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, painting landscapes and scenes of various towns and promoting ‘art unions’ with his pictures as prizes. About 1863 at Richmond, Victoria, he married Jane Smith, daughter of the captain of a whaler. Settling in Sydney in 1880 he taught painting to private pupils and at colleges, lectured on art and exhibited at various showings of the Royal Art Society.

He was then commissioned to supply the Department of Public Instruction in New South Wales with pictures of Australian birds and mammals. In 1887 Broinowski issued his famous series The Birds of Australia.

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