C1814

View of Port Jackson, Taken from the South Head

Rare engraved view by the important colonial artist William Westall. Westall was the artist on board Matthew Flinders epic voyage of exploration on the Investigator.  In 1801, a youthful Westall was appointed landscape painter and delineator of coastal profiles on … Read Full Description

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S/N: FAVTTA-VIEWS-NS-161–186808
(C001)
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Details

Full Title:

View of Port Jackson, Taken from the South Head

Date:

C1814

Condition:

In good condition.

Technique:

Hand coloured copper engraving.

Image Size: 

230mm 
x 160mm

Paper Size: 

350mm 
x 262mm
AUTHENTICITY
View of Port Jackson, Taken from the South Head - Antique View from 1814

Genuine antique
dated:

1814

Description:

Rare engraved view by the important colonial artist William Westall. Westall was the artist on board Matthew Flinders epic voyage of exploration on the Investigator. 

In 1801, a youthful Westall was appointed landscape painter and delineator of coastal profiles on Matthew Flinders’ Investigator, the expedition of 1801 – 03 circumnavigating Australia and mapping the coastline. In 1802, during ten weeks spent in Sydney while the Investigator underwent repairs, Westall made a number of drawings of the harbour, its regions, and the Indigenous Gagigal people. The drawing Port Jackson Harbour. New Holland shows a view taken from near present-day Vaucluse, the settlement of Sydney in the far distance together with Pinchgut Island where Fort Denison now stands. Three Indigenous figures were introduced to the left middle ground. For British artists used to the green fields of England and Scotland, Australia looked very plain, though furnished with exotic flora and fauna. Watling had written: ‘The landscape painter, may in vain seek here for that beauty which arises from happy-opposed off-scapes’. Westall echoed this sentiment in 1804, when he wrote to Sir Joseph Banks, of ‘his disappointment in the monotonous Australian landscape’. 

That which is different is often hard to understand and appreciate; but Westall had the sound academic training of London’s Royal Academy school to handle the situation, translating the exactness of his topographical observation into a neo-classically based composition. This he embellished with the Picturesque, the style then in vogue in England. His answer was to select and combine for the ideal, features and foregrounds rearranged for greater pictorial effect. Aborigines, seen in the related drawing, Port Jackson: A Group of Natives, 1802 and elsewhere in his work, were idealised as the ‘Noble Savage’.  Landscape settings evoke the untouched, an antipodean Garden of Eden. David Thomas

From, Flinders:

 

” A Voyage to Terra Australis; Undertaken for the Purpose of Completing the Discovery of That Vast Country, and Prosecuted in the Years 1801, 1802, and 1803, in His Majesty’s Ship the Investigator”.

 

References;

Ferguson 576, Findley ill. p.30, Flower p.75Taylor p.226-231, ill. p. 230, Wantrup   138-144

Collections: 

 

Art Gallery of South Australia: Accession number 736G59

 

National Gallery of Australia: Accession number 86.996.3

 

National Library of Australia: Bib ID584679

 

Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art: Acc. 2007.052

 

William Westall (1781 - 1850)

Westall was a landscape artist born at Hertford, England. He was taught to draw by his elder half-brother Richard (1765-1836), a water-colour painter, Royal Academician and painting teacher to Princess Victoria. In 1799 he was admitted to the Royal Academy School, where he was studying when at 19 he was appointed landscape artist with Matthew Flinders' Investigator expedition to Australia, at a salary of 300 guineas. During the voyage he made a large number of pencil-and-wash landscapes in places visited by the Investigator and a series of coast profiles in pencil. When the Porpoise ran aground on Wreck Reef his sketches were 'wetted and partly destroyed' and, while Westall travelled in China, the drawings, regarded as part of the official record of the voyage, were taken by Lieutenant Robert Fowler to England. There, at the suggestion of Sir Joseph Banks, they were handed to Richard Westall to be 'restored to a proper state'. After spending some time in China and India Westall returned to London in February 1805 and sought access to the sketches to paint a picture for exhibition at the Royal Academy and showed a View of the Bay of Pines at the academy later in the year. In the summer of 1805 Westall went to Madeira and twelve months later to Jamaica. After returning to England he painted a series of water-colour views of the places he had visited and these were shown in a Brook Street gallery and at the Associated Artists' exhibition in 1808. Later he received commissions from the Admiralty to paint nine pictures to illustrate Flinders' A Voyage to Terra Australis … (1814), and was engaged by several London publishers to paint water-colours to be reproduced as aquatints.  

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