Australia in the 1830s

Early colonial art

In the early days of the colony, artists, both convicts and free settlers, produced drawings, lithographs and paintings. Charles Rodius (1802–1860), a German artist, was sentenced to transportation for seven years for stealing a reticule (handbag), arriving in 1829. On arrival he worked in the Department of Public Works as an artist and architect, and taught the military and civil officers in drawing and perspective. He earned his living as a drawing teacher to the children of wealthy people in Sydney. In 1834, he completed his first series of lithograph portraits of Aboriginal men and woman. Included in this series was one that Rodius called King Bungaree, Chief of the Broken-Bay tribe, New South Wales. Bungaree was an Eora man and a mediator between his people and colonial authorities. In the image, he is shown wearing a brass breastplate bestowed by Governor Lachlan Macquarie (1762–1824). Such plates carried false titles such as 'king', 'queen', 'prince' or 'chief' and represented an ignorance of Aboriginal cultures and social structures. Rodius also painted Sydney Harbour from Dawes Point, 1832 and Convicts Building the Road to Bathurst, 1833.

In 1831, Thomas Bock (1790–1855) opened an art gallery in Hobart. He was an engraver, miniaturist painter, lithographer and photographer who, in 1824, had been transported for 14 years. By 1832, he had been pardoned for exemplary behaviour and was teaching painting. He undertook a series of commissioned portraits of wealthy settlers in Hobart and in 1832 made a series of 14 portraits of Tasmanian Aboriginal people, including Truganini.

The artist John Glover (1767–1849) arrived in Tasmania in 1829. In 1835, George Augustus Robinson (1791–1866) commissioned him to paint the landscape A Corrobory of Natives under the Wild Woods of the Country. The painting was used as the frontispiece for a book Robinson wrote. The studio painting was an idealised picture of Tasmanian Aboriginal life. At the time that it was painted most of the remaining Tasmanian Aboriginal people had been shifted to Flinders Island in Bass Strait and were living in extreme and impoverished conditions, which very few of them survived. Glover's reputation increased when he sent 68 of his Australian atmospheric landscape paintings for exhibition in London.

Early Colonial Art_1830

A snapshot of 1838

  • January
    • John Pascoe Fawkner (1792–1869) founded the Melbourne Advertiser, the first weekly newspaper published in Melbourne. It was originally handwritten on four pages until a press and type arrived from Tasmania.
    • The 50th anniversary of the colony of New South Wales was held.

  • June
    • The Myall Creek massacre of 28 Aboriginal men, women and children occurred.

  • November
    • Pastor Kavel brought about 200 German dissenters escaping religious persecution in their own country to South Australia.
    • The Melbourne Cricket Club was founded.

  • December
    • Melbourne's first school opened at Batman's Hill.
    • The Jenolan Caves were discovered.


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