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"Abbarroo a moobee after Balloderrees funeral"

Artist: Port Jackson Painter
Created: [ca.1791]
Dimensions: 16.5 x 14.1 cm
Reference: Watling Drawing - no. 45

 

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Half-length portrait of an Aboriginal woman named Abbarroo (also known as Abaroo, or Booron) decorated for a funeral, framed in tondo with a black ink border measuring 11.9 cm. in diameter. She is depicted with her torso facing forwards and her head turned slightly to the right, against a plain background. She has black marks representing cicatrices on her upper arms and breasts, and a wide band of mottled white and red-ochre body paint which runs from her upper arms to her shoulders and down in a v-shape across her chest. She is also painted with an off-white and red-ochre stripe which runs up from her cheeks and across her forehead. The drawing is annotated in brown ink.

 

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  • Port Jackson Painter]
  • The drawing is inscribed in blue pencil at top right with the number "54", which refers to the pre-1984 numbering system for the Watling Collection.
  • The drawing is unsigned and undated.
  • The drawing is annotated in brown ink at bottom "Abbarroo a moobee after Balloderrees funeral", possibly in John White's hand. A Moobee was one of the chief mourners at an Aboriginal funeral (see R.J. Lampert in Wheeler and Smith (eds.), 1988 p.39). Balloderree (also known as Balloderry or Ballooderry) was buried on 17th December 1791 (ref Smith, K.V. Bennelong: the coming in of the Eora , East Roseville NSW, Kangaroo Press, 2001, p.124).
  • Abaroo, aged about 14, was adopted by Mrs Johnson, wife of the chaplain to the colony, in April-May 1789 during the smallpox epidemic of that time (Smith, K.V., 2001).
  • 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 12045
  • 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 11, p. 28.)