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Exceptionally rare and important large lithograph of Adelaide in 1841 by Edward Andrew Opie (1809-1879), commissioned in 1838 by George Fife Angas the founder of the South Australian Company. Lithographed onto the stone by S. Straker (London), from a drawing … Read Full Description
Rest of the World
Orders over A$300
ship free worldwide
Exceptionally rare and important large lithograph of Adelaide in 1841 by Edward Andrew Opie (1809-1879), commissioned in 1838 by George Fife Angas the founder of the South Australian Company. Lithographed onto the stone by S. Straker (London), from a drawing by J. Hitchen based on the now lost painting by Opie. and published by J.C. Hailes, London. The South Australian News of 15 November, 1841, p.56 states; Views in South Australia to be published in December; A View of North Terrace, A View of the New Wharf at the Port and A View of J.Barton Hack Esq’s. Farm Echunga Springs, Mount Barker. The paper added on 15 December 1841, p.63; We have seen the proofs of these beautiful coloured prints. The view of Adelaide, looking towards the North Terrace, will surprise those who have been accustomed to think of the chief town of this province almost as a collection of squatters’ huts, half buried in sand.’
We have had two of these lithographs in the last 40 years (the first in 1986) and this one which is in the best condition of any we have seen or is held by any institutional collection that we have been able to trace. With wide untrimmed margins as issued, free of tears and without soiling. Early separately issued colonial views of this size, are usually found with significant condition issues due to poor framing techniques and materials used in the c.19th.
Note: The key is only provided as a reference, we do not have it for sale it is only available as an image file. (No institution holds an original key.)
The lithograph was commissioned and paid for by the wealthy George Fife Angas (1789-1879) to promote the fledging colony which unlike other Australian states depended wholly on free settlers purchasing land for it’s funding. In addition, the colonists did not have cheap convict labour as the other states had in the early years of Australian settlement. During Hindmarsh’s tenure as Governor, South Australia’s economy was struggling and when Governor Gawler arrived in Adelaide in October 1838 he found; “the colony in a state of complete disorganization and stagnation”. Four thousand immigrants were still eking out a miserable existence in dilapidated tents and shanties on the fringes of the city limits.
Nathaniel Hailes (1802-1879) a regular contributor of articles in the South Australian Register, in 1878 wrote describing the early days of the colony. On arriving in March 1839, Hailes delivered the government dispatches to Governor Gawler at Government House, which he described as; “… an extraordinary uncouth and repulsive structure. Its walls were of limestone and the roof of thatch…and resembled a moderate-sized barn.” He describes Adelaide: At that time, it resembled an extensive gipsy encampment. Not the semblance of a street existed on the land, although all the main streets had been duly laid down on the plan. It was in fact an extensive woodland, with here a solitary tent and there clusters of erratic habitations. There were canvas tents, calico tents, tarpaulin tents, wurleys made of branches, log huts, packing case villas, and a few veritable wooden cottages, amid which here and there appeared some good houses … It was easy to lose oneself in the heavily wooded city even in the daytime and at night it was scarcely possible to avoid doing so.” Some months later when they began to remove trees and their stumps where the streets were to be, “(t)here were pitfalls and man-traps in all directions..
To stimulate the economy, Gawler borrowed funds for government building projects such as Government House, Victoria Square public offices and the Adelaide Gaol. Hailes observed that 1839 and 1840 were the years when official squabbles gave way to productive energy, public buildings were constructed from brick and stone, and houses built of two stories instead of one. By October 1840, South Australia had accrued a large debt, and funding to the government was withheld. Addresses to Governor Gawler expressing anxiety that bills were no longer being honoured began to appear in the papers from 26 February 1841. Governor Gawler was recalled and the new governor, Captain George Grey, arrived in Adelaide on 10 May 1841 and quickly imposed stringent economies, cutting the government’s wages bill and cancelling contracts, inducing a severe depression. A sixth of the population became unemployed and by 1842, 642 out of 1,915 houses in Adelaide were abandoned. Hailes observed that all were living beyond their means when the recession hit like a “torpedo”.
Edward Andrew Opie (1809 - 1879)
Opie was an artist, theatre painter, decorator and actor. Born England son of the painter Richard Opie and nephew of the celebrated Royal Academician John Opie. Arrived at Port Adelaide on the D'Auvergne on 21 March 1839. In the same year George Fife Angas founder of the South Australian Company commissioned him to make a view of the City from North Terrace. Opie joined Samson Cameron's theatrical company as an actor in 1839 making his first appearance in November 1839.On May21 1840 Opie advertised that he was painting portraits and later also that he could clean and repair oil paintings as well as teach drawing. By 1843 Opie had moved to Launceston and onto Hobart where he redecorated theatres and acting. By November 1845 he was in Melbourne where he painted portraits. In May 1846 the Patriot reported that Opie had completed 'several paintings of Melbourne, each taken from a different portion of the town' for William Hull who intended sending them back to England. Opie was listed as an artist of Market Square in the 1847 Port Phillip Patriot Almanac. By 1848 he had returned to Adelaide acting and as a scene painter in theatres. In 1851 he moved to Geelong and then to Melbourne where his life is largely undocumented. He is not known to have signed his paintings and few have been located. He died in Melbourne on 31 October 1879.
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