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"Ban nel lang meeting the Governor by apointment after he was wounded by Willemaring in September 1790"

Artist: Port Jackson Painter
Created: [ca.1790?]
Dimensions: 26.2 x 40.4 cm
Reference: Watling Drawing - no. 40


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This drawing represents an encounter between Australian Aborigines and British colonists in a harbour landscape, following the wounding of Governor Arthur Phillip by Willemaring in September 1790. The scene includes four canoes, each paddled by an Aboriginal man or woman, arranged in a row across the mid-foreground. The man in the front canoe, named as Ban nel lang (also known as Bennelong), is depicted raising his paddle in his right hand and turning his head to his right towards an approaching rowing boat which contains eight oarsmen in blue and grey clothing and two other men wearing wide-brimmed black hats. The composition is dominated by horizontals, including the brown rocky shore in the foreground, the row of canoes, the representation of the water with a gradated blue wash overlaid with grey lines, and in the distance low-lying wooded headlands coloured grey-green, and blue-grey hills. The sky is largely unpainted except for a pink stain on the horizon and areas of blue wash towards the top of the picture. The drawing is framed by a triple-banded border with a central band coloured with a dark grey wash, and annotated in brown ink below the frame.


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  • Port Jackson Painter]
  • The drawing is inscribed in blue pencil at top right with the number "49", which refers to the pre-1984 numbering system for the Watling Collection.
  • The drawing is annotated in brown ink at bottom "Ban nel lang meeting the Governor by appointment after he was wounded by Willemaring in September 1790".
  • The meeting referred to is recorded as happening ten days after the wounding of Governor Arthur Phillip on 7 September 1790, an event which is represented by the Port Jackson Painter in Watling drawings 23 and 24 (see R.J. Lampert in Wheeler and Smith (1988), p.66-8.)
  • Bennelong was captured by the British colonists in December 1789, in the hope that he could be trained to act as an intermediary between the colonists and the indigenous people. He left the colony for England with Governor Phillip in November 1792, returning to Sydney in 1795. (ref. Smith, Keith Vincent. Bennelong: the coming in of the Eora, Sydney Cove, 1788-1792. East Roseville NSW, Kangaroo Press, 2001.)
  • The drawing is unsigned and undated.
  • The author of this catalogue record is Suzanne Stenning.
  • By permission of the trustees of the Natural History Museum (London).
  • Two sets of transparencies held in the Natural History Museum (London) Zoology Library and Picture Library: Picture Library order number 12040
  • James Lee of Kensington : purchased ; 1902
  • Data sheet available.
  • Wheeler, A. and Smith, B, (eds.) The Art of the First Fleet and other early Australian Drawings. New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1988. (Plate 66, p. 68.)