Artwork of the month

Haughton Forrest ‘Constantia’ Watermill at Newtown, Hobart

c1885

31 cm x 47 cm

Oil on Academy Board


The watermill was a relevant part of Australian colonial life. Along with windmills, watermills were an important source of food production for colonial Australians.

In Tasmania alone over 55 watermill sites have been identified prior to 1900.

This watermill on a creek in Newtown, Hobart, was built c 1820. By 1824, it was believed to have been used as a distillery for a short period of time. The name of the distillery was ‘Constantia’. Advertisements in the Hobart Gazette and the Van Diemen’s Land Advertiser in 1824, state:  ‘A good Wholesome and pure spirit’. The business shut down, apparently after Governor Brisbane raised the excise on locally made liquor.

The mill was then used to house orphans prior to the completion of the Orphanage at St Johns Newtown.

The mill was probably not in use during the time this work was painted in c 1885.  A photograph dating to the 1890s by Photographer David Fox shows the mill in a decrepit condition. (see below)

The piece in in excellent condition, signed H. Forrest, lower left.

The frame is original and has been restored and re gilt.

Provenance: Brownell Bros Department Store, Hobart (label verso). The Brownell collection, Melbourne. Thence by decent. Private collection, Melbourne. Private collection Hobart.

Reference: This work is to be included in the forthcoming publication: Ayling, G. et. al., Haughton Forrest Biography, Catalogue and Gallery of Paintings, 4th edition, 2017, The Forrest Project, cat. no. HF4.1.007

Forrest was considered to be one of Tasmania’s best colonial artists, this work is an important and aesthetically pleasing image of a relic of our colonial past.

Watermill Newtown | David Fox c 1890
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Haughton Forrest | Constantia | Watermill New Town | Day Gallery