Detailed Studies

A fine Pacific portrait

A fine Pacific portrait

Admiral Sir George Seymour (1787-1870) in his capacity as commander-in-chief of the Pacific Station changed the course of Pacific history with significant repercussions in Sydney and leading to substantial realignments within the broader Pacific, and in the colonial relationship with Britain. Read more about the portrait he commissioned and his role in Pacific history.

Marquesan artefacts, and the queen's tattooed hand

Marquesan artefacts, and the queen's tattooed hand

Charles Noury (1809-1869), a French naval officer born in Nantes, spent a number of years on service in the Pacific where he was entranced by the Marquesas islands. Years later, in his retirement, he studied and shared his collection of Pacific and especially Marquesan artefacts, and his Album Polynésien, an extremely rare and beautiful illustrated description of these and of observations that he made there, was published in Nantes in 1861. Among the wonderful depictions of artefacts the most beautiful of the images is that of the tattooed hand which, particularly graceful and beautiful, has spawned a small literature of its own since it depicts the famous tattoos of Queen Vaekehu (1823-1901). The tattoos were by different artists from the island of Ua Pou, home of the best tattooists in the archipelago, and they were done so well and so similarly that they appeared the work of one artist. The queen was quoted elsewhere as saying “Oh I suffered cruelly. I cried much… For several days my hands stayed large as breadfruits. It was in vain that I asked my mother to put an end to my suffering. All was useless. It was necessary that the tattooing of my hands and arms to my shoulders, of the feet and the knees, of the mouth and the ears, reveal my noble origin…"

A fine portrait of Admiral John Hunter

A fine portrait of Admiral John Hunter

A most remarkable discovery: this previously unknown original portrait on ivory of Australia's second Governor, Vice Admiral John Hunter (1737-1821), was painted by William Minehead Bennett in I819, and has remained in the possession of Hunter's family and descendants until modern times. A new discovery, it extends the series of portraits of this distinguished figure in Australian history to just four, of which it is the last, portraying Hunter a few years before his death in 1821. The series of portraits, two of which are in the collection of the National Library of Australia and one in the Dixson collection at the State Library of New South Wales, are all by the same artist, and depict the governor at different ages.

With its exceptional provenance from the Hunter and related Kent families, this portrait and its history of ownership are closely entwined with both the First Fleet; one of the more remarkable voyages of colonisation in the world's history, and with the subsequent foundation of the English settlement of New South Wales.

A classic of Pacific ethnography

A classic of Pacific ethnography

An Album of the Weapons, Tools, Ornaments, Articles of Dress &c of the Natives of the Pacific Islands… by James Edge-Partington and Charles Heape is a fundamental work on the native art and artefacts of the Pacific, it is only very occasionally offered for sale. 

Just 150 sets were published over nine years from 1890; a complete set in original condition as here has the wonderful series of 854 lithographically-illustrated sheets gathered together in the three rare original portfolio cases. 

Depicting Sir Joseph

Depicting Sir Joseph

From his return on James Cook's Endeavourportraits of Sir Joseph Banks by the most famous artists of the day strengthened his position as the great statesman of science, recognised by the King for increasing Britain’s scientific, imperial and commercial reputation. Three images: a proof engraving of Banks just returned on Cook's Endeavour; an unrecorded version of Banks's favourite portrait, captured mid-career by the daughter of a friend; and the rare 1795 first issue of the splendid satirical cartoon by James Gillray, capture Banks as the lion of Georgian Britain.

To mark the 250th and 200th anniversaries of Joseph Banks’s arrival on the east coast of Australia, and of his death in 1820, we are also offering a substantial collection of related material: see here.