Natural history

Image 1 of 508
  next page

"A View of the West side of Norfolk Island and the manner in which the crew and provisions were saved out of His Majesty's Ship the Sirius, taken from the West side of Turtle Bay after she was wreck'd"

Artist: Port Jackson Painter
Created: [ca.1790?]
Dimensions: 30.9 x 38.7 cm
Reference: Watling Drawing - no. 22


hide detailed image description

The drawing represents the salvaging of crew and provisions from the wreck of the Sirius, the flag-ship of the First Fleet, at Norfolk Island on 19th March 1790. The ship is depicted listing to her side in the sea towards the lower left of the composition, her masts broken and surrounded by barrels and crates, with waves breaking over her. The remains of her crew are visible on the deck. The ship isseparated from calmer water and the shore on the right by a series of rocky outcrops. She is attached to the shore by two ropes, one of which is anchored by a group of sailors on the shore, and the second by another group on a rock mid-way between the shore and the ship. They are guiding a raft containing more of the crew which is suspended from the ropes. In the distance another small rowing boat can be seen pitching in the waves. It is watched by another group of figures from the shore, close to a flag-pole from which the Union Jack of Queen Anne is flying, and a cluster of buildings. The shore is backed by hills covered with pine trees. The sky occupies approximately two-thirds of the composition and is largely unpainted, with some areas of blue wash. The drawing is framed by a triple-banded border, the central band of which is coloured with a pink wash. The main part of the title, in brown ink, is contained in a separate panel below the drawing within the central band, and continuing into the outer band. Some conservation work is visible in the bottom right-hand corner.


hide notes

  • Port Jackson Painter]
  • The drawing is inscribed in blue pencil at top right with the number "31", which refers to the pre-1984 numbering system for the Watling Collection.
  • A separate label is attached to the mount alongside the drawing to the right. It is inscribed in pencil "A similar drawing is in "the Raper" Drawings" No. 22." (number 23 in the current numbering system). The Sirius was wrecked as it tried to land at Norfolk Island on 19th March 1790, and an eye-witness account of the event is given by the Captain of the Sirius, John Hunter, in An Historical Journal of the Transactions at Port Jackson and Norfolk Island (London, 1793).
  • 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 12022
  • 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 128, p. 123.)
  • Dixson, W. 'Some Early Picture of Sydney', The Royal Australian Historical Society Journal and Proceedings Vol. 19, 1923, pp. 198-204.