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"A Direct North View of Sydney Cove and Port Jackson, the Chief British Settlement in new South Wales, Taken from the North Shorre about one Mile distant, for John White Esqr."

Artist: Watling, Thomas
Created: [ca. 1794?]
Dimensions: 41.4 x 52.8 cm
Reference: Watling Drawing - no. LS7


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A monochrome view of the settlement at Sydney Cove, viewed from the opposite shore of the harbour. The darker land in the foreground rises to the left and right from a low central point and, together with the curve of the far shore, frames an elliptical body of water in the centre. Trees to the left and right of the foreground curve inwards and act as a compositional device to unite the two land masses. To the right of the foreground shore, three Aboriginal figures are depicted gesturing towards two companions in a canoe to the left. In the harbour behind them three ships are anchored, one of which is flying the naval ensign of Queen Anne. On the far shore the hut at the end of Bennelong Point can be seen at the extreme left, with Government House on the hillside further to the right. Various other buildings can be identified, including the dry store near Government Wharf, and the hospital buildings to the right. The scene is enclosed by distant tree-covered hills. The drawing is executed in broad washes with some linear definition of foliage and finer detail in the buildings and ships. The sky is represented by washes of grey and unpainted areas indicating clouds. The drawing is framed by a double-banded border, the inner band of which is coloured black. It is signed by Watling, titled in copperplate script, and annotated in brown ink.


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  • Thomas Watling]
  • The drawing is inscribed in blue pencil at top right with the number "20", which refers to the pre-1984 numbering system for the Watling Collection.
  • The drawing is inscribed in brown ink, in what appears to be Watling's copperplate script, with the title "A Direct North View of Sydney Cove and Port Jackson, the Chief British Settlement in New South Wales, Taken from the North Shore about one Mile distant, for John White Esqr.-". It is followed in paler ink in what appears to be a different hand "It must be observed the Masts of the Ships are out of all proportion".
  • The drawing is signed in black ink at lower right, in the outer band of the border, "T. Watling; delt.", but undated.
  • McCormick (1987) points out the similarity of the title to that of the oil painting by Watling now held in the Dixson Gallery, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, which uses is worded in almost the same way with the additional note "as it appeared in 1794, being the 7th year of its establishment". McCormick suggests the drawing may have been used in the preparation of the oil painting.
  • 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 reference number 12507
  • 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 141, p. 135.)
  • McCormick, Tim. First Views of Australia: A History of Early Sydney. David Ell Press in association with Longueville Publications, Chippendale, 1987. (Plate 31, p. 65.)