Circa 1839

SKU SF001447 Category


Wilbraham Liardet was so fascinated by the early settlement of Melbourne that, late in life, he began making notes on its history, preparing some forty watercolours based on his recollections for its illustration.

Liardet had emigrated in 1839, establishing himself and his large family on a strip of beach that later became Port Melbourne. While engaged on various enterprises, he witnessed the beginnings of settlement along the Yarra River.

Although this work has been given an approximate date of 1839, it is possibly a later recollection. Nonetheless, it is recalled with a direct and strong sense of actuality evident in the crudeness of the dwellings, a result of their hasty erection in the first days, and the structured flag pole surrounded by goods recently off loaded from the boats which brought in the first hardy settlers. The mood of pioneering achievement against the privations of nature is furthered by the starkness of the scene with its low horizon and absence of trees. The actions of the various group and individual figures give the work an added sense of occasion and engagement, so characteristic of Liardet’s art.

Additional information



Wilbraham Liardet


Paper, Watercolour