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Very fine engraving a Baobab tree made from the watercolour by Thomas Baines (1820-1875), titled, Gouty stem tree, Adansonia Gregorii, 58 feet circumference, near a creek south-east of Stokes Range, Victoria River. In 1855 Baines joined Augustus Gregory’s 1855-1857 Royal … Read Full Description
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Very fine engraving a Baobab tree made from the watercolour by Thomas Baines (1820-1875), titled, Gouty stem tree, Adansonia Gregorii, 58 feet circumference, near a creek south-east of Stokes Range, Victoria River.
In 1855 Baines joined Augustus Gregory’s 1855-1857 Royal Geographical Society sponsored expedition across northern Australia as official artist and storekeeper. The expedition’s purpose was to explore the Victoria River district in the north-west and to evaluate the entire northern area of Australia in terms of its suitability for colonial settlement. The Baines River was named after him.
Baines sailed for Sydney together with the expedition’s geologist, Mr J. Wilson arriving in May 1855. There they met Augustus Gregory who was to lead the expedition. The 18 members of the party were, in addition to Baines:
Augustus Gregory – leader, Henry Gregory – his brother, Joseph Elsey – surgeon, Dr Ferdinand Mueller – botanist, James Flood – collector & preserver, J Wilson – geologist, Bowman – farrier. In addition there were 9 stockmen including Fahey, Dean, Melville and Macdonald
The plan was for the expedition members to sail in the schooner “Tom Tough” from Sydney accompanied by the barque “Monarch”, to Moreton Bay where the “Monarch” would take on 200 sheep and 50 horses with feed. They would then proceed to the entrance of Victoria River in the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf in what is now the Northern Territory. They sailed from Sydney on 15 July 1855. Captain Gourlay of the “Tom Tough” was accompanied by his wife, three young children and a maid. The ships arrived at anchorage at the mouth of the Victoria River on 18 Sept 1855.
They started landing the horses with some difficulty and lost five and one more later. The “Monarch” had problems with groundings which later proved to have caused considerable damage and after discharging its cargo it departed for Singapore. Tom Tough sailed up river leaving Gregory on the 24 Sept with a small party to travel overland from Treachery Bay over the Macadam Range. They joined they joined the rest of the party some 60 miles up river on 22 October to find the ship grounded and severely damaged. Some of the provisions on board were damaged, many of the sheep had died and the rest were barely fit to eat. Baines was official artist and storekeeper, in fact, as his journal shows, he became the most active member of the expedition when Gregory and his party was absent. Although not a natural leader, he was placed in a position of authority by Gregory in his absence.
Ferguson, J. A. Bibliography of Australia Volumes 1-8, Canberra 1976 7280.
National Library Australia: Bib ID 7337226
Library of Congress Washington D.C.: 43021238
Queensland Art Gallery: Accession No. 2:1216A.017
State Library Victoria: RARELTF 919.4 B643AU
State Library New South Wales: Call Numbers:Q980.1/46D1
State Library South Australia: 919.4 B755 b
State Library of Western Australia: Call Number Q 994
Thomas Baines (1820 - 1875)
English artist and explorer born in King's Lynn, Norfolk, on 27 November 1820. At the age of 16, he began his apprenticeship as a coach painter. When he turned 22, he embarked on a journey to South Africa on the ship "Olivia" and worked in Cape Town as a scenic and portrait artist. He also served as an official war artist during the Eighth Frontier War for the British Army. In 1855, Baines joined an expedition sponsored by the Royal Geographical Society and led by Augustus Gregory. He served as the official artist and storekeeper. The expedition aimed to explore the Victoria River district in the north-west of Australia and assess its suitability for colonial settlement. Baines' involvement in the North Australian Expedition was the highlight of his career, earning him recognition and honors such as having Mount Baines and the Baines River named after him. Baines' explorations continued as he accompanied David Livingstone along the Zambezi in 1858, becoming one of the first white men to witness Victoria Falls. In 1869, he led a gold prospecting expedition to Mashonaland, which later became Rhodesia. Another notable expedition took place from 1861 to 1862 when Baines and James Chapman journeyed to South West Africa. This expedition marked the first extensive use of photography and painting, with both men keeping journals and commenting on each other's practices. Baines also contributed drawings for the engravings in Alfred Russel Wallace's book "The Malay Archipelago" published in 1869. In 1870, he obtained a concession from Lobengula, leader of the Matabele nation, to explore for gold between the Gweru and Hunyani rivers. Thomas Baines passed away in Durban on 8 May 1875 and was laid to rest in West Street Cemetery.
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