Augustus Earle (1793-1838)
Government House and Part of The Town of Sydney | 1830
19.8 cm x 28.8 cm
lithograph on paper
Lithograph after Augustus Earle, Printed by Charles Hullmandel
London published August 10th 1830 by J. Cross, Holborn, opposite Furnivals Inn
This extremely rare depiction of Government house is one of only a small surviving handful of Earle’s Australian Lithograph works.
In 1830 he published views of New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land, Australian Scrap Book. The eight views were all of New South Wales and subjects and are important early views of the growing colony of New South Wales. This Tasmanian section was never completed.
A related watercolour is in the National Library- Rex Nan Kivell Collection NK12/31
Note the Norfolk pine and the Kangaroos.
The building depicted here, had been demolished by 1846.
Earle was born into a family of professional painters, his father James Earle was an American portrait painter who had fled to England in 1778, his uncle Ralph Earle was also a famous American portrait painter, and his older sister Phoebe, became a flower painter to Queen Victoria, her husband Dennis Dighton was a printer who later lithographed some of Earle’s watercolours.
It is not surprising that Earle as an early age showed great potential as a painter. His work was hung at the Royal Academy at the age of thirteen. Between the years 1806-1815 seven of his major painting hung at the RA.
Earle was stung by the travel and adventure bug in 1815 when he boarded a store ship set for Malta, over the next two years he travelled and painted in the Mediterranean. Back in London in 1817 Earle could not sit still; in March 1818, he set off again, this time for the America’s. Some of his notable works record his travels in South America.
The major work from his adventure titled “Gate of Pernambuco in Brazil, with New Negros” (the painting was subtitled ‘The Police ordered the Slaves to be Housed, on Account of an Attack Made on one of the Outposts by the Patriots in 1821’) was exhibited at the RA in 1824 as an honorary exhibitor (in absentia).
In 1824 Earle left Brazil bound for Calcutta, on route his ship, the Duke of Gloucester, was forced to anchor off the remote island of Tristan de Cunha. Earle decided to go ashore and sketch, before he knew what was happening, and unaware that Earle was ashore the Captain ordered the ship to set sail, stranding Earle on the island. It was eight months until he managed to hitch a lift on a ship named the ‘Admiral Cockburn’ sailing towards Hobart. After four moths painting the “Perfect Park Scenery” of Hobart, Earle boarded the ‘Cyprus’, bound for Sydney. Given Earle’s talent for painting and the lack of professionally trained artists living in the colony, he soon established himself as a leading painter, rivalled only by Richard Reed Senior.
Earle’s talent was soon recognised by the landed gentry, he was given many lucrative commissions, including the now historical portrait of Captain John Piper and his family. Another socially important portrait he painted was that of Bungaree, the King of Sydney.
In 1826 Earle opened his gallery at 10 George Street, Sydney. He offered painting lessons, his own pictures and articles used in drawing and painting.
After receiving a lithograph press by James Dunlop Earle, he set his mind to the process of lithography. In November 1826, he produced the first part of his ‘Views in Australia’. His travel bug thwarted the completion of his project. He travelled to the Blue Mountains and Bathurst, and went as far as Port Stephens and Port Macquarie. Earle saw more of Australia in three years than many did in a lifetime!
After returning to Sydney and applying unsuccessfully for a Government Land Grant, Earle decided to leave in 1827 aboard the ‘Governor Macquarie’ heading towards New Zealand. By 1829 Earle was back in London and planning a lithographic project titled ‘Views in NSW and Van Diemen’s Land.’ This was completed in 1830 and comprised of 8 lithographs depicting landmark buildings, personalities, and prominent views of NSW. The Tasmanian portion of the book was never completed.
Never one to stay still, Earle set off as ships artist aboard the ‘Beagle’, with Charles Darwin.
Illness hampered and he was forced to shore in Rio, Brazil.
He was back in London in 1833, suffering from ill health.
Earle continued to paint and travel around the British countryside, he also reworked and painted scenes from his travels, exhibiting them regularly during the mid 1930’s
He died in London in 1839 of asthma and debility.