State Library of New South Wales Acquire William Tibbits watercolour of Heathfield, in Woollahra

Day Gallery recently sold Heathfield, Woods Avenue Woollahra, NSWto the State Library of New South Wales in which the artist William Tibbits depicts one of the first middle class housing developments in Australia. Heathfield, Woods Avenue Woollahra c1898. Heathfield has an interesting past, and the terrace houses along with the gates are still standing. Topographically it is a brilliant view of one of Sydney’s lost homesteads. The provenance of the piece is also quite interesting dating back to the family that commissioned the piece. Below is the history of the area, and the provenance of the piece.
Heathfield Woods Ave, Woollahra, c 1898
William Tibbits (1837-1906)
Size: 23 x 52 cm
Medium: Watercolour on paper


“Heathfield was one of the earliest houses in the Wallis/Nelson Street area of Woollahra. Council records indicate that it was in existence in 1871.

The Heathfield site was originally leased from the extensive estates of Sir Daniel Cooper. The land remained part of Cooper’s estate until 1930.

Over the years Heathfield had many rate paying lesses, the earliest of which being J.R Treeve who sublet Heathfield to William Wilkinson in 1871. In 1876 Henry Soloman took over the lease and resided there until his death in 1894.

By 1897 the estate was subdivided into 29 lots, the drive becoming Woods Avenue. The leasehold of the house and the surrounding 8 lots was taken up by Thomas Baras, who resided at Heathfield from c1899 until c1903. He retained the leasehold until his death in 1914.

During Baras’ leasehold Heathfield became a private hospital and served in this capacity from 1909 until 1922.

In 1923 the house was apparently converted into six flats, a popular practice at the time and in 1930 the ownership of the land passed from the Cooper Estate to the Estate of John Samuel Cole. In 1948 it was again transferred, this time to the Royal Sydney Industrial Blind Society.

The House was demolished in the 1960s to make way for a town house development. All was not lost however, the gate posts still exist at the beginning of Woods Avenue and the charming late 19th century terraces built after the subdivision still give definition to the estate that was Heathfield.”

Extract taken from ‘Maps and Mansions’ by David Stanley.

Advertising for the Heathfield Estate, 1897


This watercolour was the property of Thomas Baras, Esq. who later sold the lease of the property. It is likely that he commissioned Tibbits to paint the newly built estate in c1898.

It passed to his wife Ellen Matilda Baras.