Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains from Windsor

Watercolour.

Relates to Plate 1 in ‘An Historical Account of the Colony of New South Wales’, signed and dated, James Wallis 1815, lower left.

Signed again at a later date at the lower right beneath the drawing; ‘Major Wallis 46th Regt.’; followed ‘with Camera Lucida’. Watercolour over pencil, pen and ink. The title is inscribed on label, framed.


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Description

Watercolour by a significant figure in colonial history. Until the appearance of this drawing and two others offered in the same sale in the 1980s, no original drawings by Wallis were known to exist. Captain James Wallis arrived in Sydney in February 1814 in charge of the 46th Regiment which was to replace the 73rd. It was evident that he had some interest in art because after years in Sydney and Newcastle he placed an advertisement in the Sydney Gazette, 9 January, 1819, for the sale of a “series of original views in New South Wales”. This was a set of thirteen printed views, engraved on copper by W. Preston.

This watercolour relates (loosely) to Plate One in “An Historical Account of the Colony of New South Wales”, Wallis’s own publication, issued in London in 1821. The view of the Hawkesbury is one recorded by several early artists including John Lewin and George Evans. The Hawkesbury district of New South Wales was the principal supplier of grain and food and was therefore of great importance to the colony and, in particular, Sydney. The area was well farmed and populated and had a thriving ship building industry. The river itself was one of the colony’s busiest waterways, supplying food and grain to Sydney. The inscription on the watercolour “with camera lucida” makes this a particularly interesting work. The camera lucida was a small device used by artists to place an outline of their work on to paper and was frequently used by travelling artists in the early nineteenth century.

This is the earliest recorded Australian painting to have employed this technique. The emergence of this watercolour establishes Wallis as an important contributor to colonial art. No longer is he seen only as an organiser and publisher with a unique ability to muster others into creative endeavours. He is now recognised as an artist in his own right, and one of the small but talented group who have given us a vision of the colony in its very early years.

Additional information
Date

1815

Author/Maker

James Wallis

Material

Pen, Pencil, Ink, Watercolour