Portrait of Mackabarang. James THOMSON.

Portrait of Mackabarang…
Portrait of Mackabarang

London: Alexander Hogg, c. 1804.

Original engraving approx. 120 x 180 mm. mounted and framed.

"Broken Bay Jack", after Nicolas Petit, Baudin's artist

Rare portrait of Mackabarang or "Broken Bay Jack", derived from the work of Nicolas-Martin Petit on the Baudin voyage. The engraved text beneath the portrait of Mackabarang states that Petit was the original artist, but that the drawing was in the possession of "Jas. Thompson". A strange connection, but an interesting one: James Thomson had first come to New South Wales as surgeon of the Third Fleet transport the Atlantic, which arrived in early 1791. He was back in England in early 1793, where he was appointed the Senior Assistant to William Balmain. After his return he remained in Sydney until 1802, when he took leave for England. Remarkably, he and his wife shipped on board Baudin's ship the Naturaliste at least as far as the Ile de France: Thomson sent a letter to Governor King from King Island en route, while Baudin himself let the Governor know about his guest's continuing health in a letter from Port Louis: 'Monsieur et Madame Thomson se portoient bien, et ont éprouvés pendant leur sejour tout l'agrément qu'ils pouvoient désirer' (HRNSW, vol. V, pp. 8 & 201).

Rare portrait of Mackabarang or "Broken Bay Jack", derived from the work of Nicolas-Martin Petit on the Baudin voyage. The engraved text beneath the portrait of Mackabarang states that Petit was the original artist, but that the drawing was in the possession of "Jas. Thompson". A strange connection, but an interesting one: James Thomson had first come to New South Wales as surgeon of the Third Fleet transport the Atlantic, which arrived in early 1791. He was back in England in early 1793, where he was appointed the Senior Assistant to William Balmain. After his return he remained in Sydney until 1802, when he took leave for England. Remarkably, he and his wife shipped on board Baudin's ship the Naturaliste at least as far as the Ile de France: Thomson sent a letter to Governor King from King Island en route, while Baudin himself let the Governor know about his guest's continuing health in a letter from Port Louis: 'Monsieur et Madame Thomson se portoient bien, et ont éprouvés pendant leur sejour tout l'agrément qu'ils pouvoient désirer' (HRNSW, vol. V, pp. 8 & 201).

Clearly Petit had given Thomson some of his drawings en route from Port Jackson, and after his return he imparted his knowledge of the native inhabitants of New South Wales to George Riley, the author of the article which this portrait accompanied in the "Wonderful Museum", where the text was fleshed out with notes from some of the First Fleet books.

George Riley published mezzotint versions of two portraits in London in 1803, and two engravings (including this) published by Alexander Hogg are clearly versions of the Riley portraits. The portrait of Mackabarang is very similar to the original Riley image, but while a portrait of Killprieara retained her prominent cicatrices on the chest and shoulders, her breasts were prudishly covered with a draped piece of cloth.

There is also a closely related sketch of "Mook aba rang" in the British Museum, which may be Petit's original (Oc2006, Drg.319).

Ferguson, 374 (full run of the journal).

Condition Report: Very good

Price (AUD): $2,450.00

US$1,819.57   Other currencies

Ref: #4504821

Condition Report