Image 4 of 84
  previous page next page

"A Native climbing a tree near his Bark Hut and Fire"

Artist: Port Jackson Painter
Created: [between 1788 and 1797]
Dimensions: 31.4 x 21.5 cm
Reference: Watling Drawing - no. 76


hide detailed image description

Sheet of drawings of aboriginal tools and weapons, arranged around a central scene depicting aborigines engaged in various activities in a landscape. The scene is framed in tondo with a black ink border measuring 12.6 cm. in diameter. In the centre of the scene an aboriginal woman is cooking fish over a camp fire, with fishing implements on the ground in front of her. To the left is a tent-like bark hut in front of a wooded hill-side. To the right an aboriginal man is climbing a tree to reach a long-tailed mammal on a higher branch, using an axe to cut foot-holds into the trunk. The tree is pale brown, with red marks where the trunk has been cut. Behind the tree is a stretch of water with a distant figure in silhouette fishing with a spear from a headland. The background landscape is represented by green washes overlaid with fine horizontal lines in different shades, and the sky consists of patches of blue wash around unpainted areas, with a pink stain on the horizon. On either side of the tondo are two spears (numbered 4), both with shafts of pale yellow wood shaded grey to the left and divided into three sections with dark areas of binding. The one on the left ends in a sharpened point with a black tip pointing upwards, while the one on the right ends in a tip with a black serrated edge, and is pointing downwards. Above the tondo is a pale brown stick (numbered 1) with darker blobs at either end, and a pale blue shell embedded in one end and a wooden barb or flange at the other. Below is a stone axe (numbered 2) and a club (numbered 3) with a flattened head painted with white and pale orange stripes radiating from a central spike. The drawing is framed by a triple banded border in ink with a very pale yellow wash in the central band. It is annotated in black and brown ink in what appear to be two different hands, with descriptions of the implements in a ruled margin at the bottom of the drawing inside the outer frame.


hide notes

  • Port Jackson Painter]
  • The drawing is inscribed in blue ink at top right with the number "85", which refers to the pre-1984 numbering system for the Watling Collection.
  • The drawing has been annotated in brown ink at bottom left, in the central band of the border, "A Native climbing a Tree near his Bark Hut and Fire."
  • The implements are numbered 1-12. The key is inscribed in black ink in a band at the bottom of the sheet, inside the main frame. At left; "1 A Throwing stick 2 A stone Hatchet" and at right "3 A Club made of hard wood 4 Spears of different make 10 to 12 ft. long".
  • 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 12076
  • 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 56, p. 63.)