C1803

An Eastern View of Sydney taken from a small prominence nigh the New Barracks.

Artist:

Thomas Watling (1762? - ?)

This view is taken from the site of the new barracks, which David Collins describes as being on the summit of the high ground at the head of the cove and commanding a wonderful view down the harbour. The barracks … Read Full Description

$A 850

S/N: TECI-NS-004–308315
(B005)
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Details

Full Title:

An Eastern View of Sydney taken from a small prominence nigh the New Barracks.

Date:

C1803

Artist:

Thomas Watling (1762? - ?)

Engraver:

James Heath 

Condition:

Narrow bottom margin, as often found otherwise in good condition.

Technique:

Copper engraving hand coloured

Image Size: 

245mm 
x 180mm
AUTHENTICITY
An Eastern View of Sydney taken from a small prominence nigh the New Barracks. - Antique View from 1803

Genuine antique
dated:

1803

Description:

This view is taken from the site of the new barracks, which David Collins describes as being on the summit of the high ground at the head of the cove and commanding a wonderful view down the harbour. The barracks consisted of five buildings for the soldiers with apartments for officers at each end.As this was near the place they were then using to bury the dead, the burial ground was moved to near current day Sydney Town Hall. The row of huts on the left, built mostly of wattle and daub, were occupied by convicts.

Artist:

Thomas Watling (C1762-?)

Convict and artist, was born on 19 September 1762 in Dumfries, Scotland, the son of Ham Watlin, soldier. His parents died during his infancy and he was brought up by a maiden aunt, Marion Kirkpatrick. His education, which was well above average, obviously included a thorough grounding in art and eventually he formed his own ‘academy’. In 1788 he was briefly in Glasgow as a coach and chaise painter. Back in Dumfries on 27 November he was charged with having forged guinea notes on the Bank of Scotland. He denied his guilt, but rather than risk conviction and execution he asked to be transported and was sentenced to fourteen years. On his way to join a prison hulk at Plymouth he helped to avert a shipboard mutiny by fellow convicts, but this won him no remission of sentence.

In July 1791 Watling was one of 410 convicts who sailed in the Pitt for New South Wales. He escaped at Cape Town, but was soon arrested by the Dutch, imprisoned and taken aboard theRoyal Admiral, in which he reached Sydney on 7 October 1792. He appears to have been assigned almost immediately to the surgeon-general, John White an ardent naturalist, who made extensive use of his artistic skill.

During his first months in the colony Watling continued a series of letters which he had begun at Cape Town; as Letters from an Exile at Botany-Bay to his Aunt in Dumfries … they were published in Penrith, England, probably in 1794. They frankly and courageously criticized various aspects of life in the colony, particularly the treatment of convicts, and included interesting observations from an artist’s viewpoint. When White left the colony in December 1794 it is thought that Watling may have been assigned to the judge-advocate, David Collins. There is positive evidence that at least some of the plates in Collins’s An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales (London, 1798-1802) were taken from original sketches by Watling.

Watling’s prospects improved with the arrival of Governor John Hunter, himself an enthusiastic and able artist. Within a year, in September 1796 Watling was given a conditional pardon and on 5 April 1797 it was made absolute. While in the colony Watling had a son, presumably by a convict woman, and when he left Sydney he took the child with him. From 1801 to 1803 he lived in Calcutta, earning a precarious living as a miniature painter. He returned to Scotland and on 10 January 1806 was tried at Edinburgh for a series of forgeries allegedly committed at Dumfries between November 1804 and March 1805. He was discharged on a verdict of ‘not proven’. Later he moved with his son to London where, in indigent circumstances and suffering from cancer of the left breast, he applied to Hunter, now an admiral, for help and received some assistance from members of the Royal Academy. Neither the date nor place of his death are known.

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