"Ye Picnic" Graceful attitude of ladie oystering. UNKNOWN ARTIST.

"Ye Picnic" Graceful attitude of ladie oystering...

New South Wales: circa 1860s.

Sepia drawing 110 mm x 170 mm (image size); mounted, in an early timber frame.

Oysters for all

Charming rendering of a colonial woman oystering -- a rare subject.

Charming rendering of a colonial woman oystering -- a rare subject.

Far from being the preserve of the gourmet, oysters in 19th century Sydney were fodder for all. Shell deposits in Sydney middens attest to oyster consumption by the Aboriginal population for thousands of years before colonial settlement. Early European settlers had taken to the local product with gusto, but they also burned the shells to produce lime for mortar. This depleted the natural population, so the government banned the burning of oysters for lime, leading to deliberate farming. (Dictionary of Sydney). Thomas Holt, the first Treasurer in the NSW Legislative Assembly, had begun (unsuccessful) attempts at commercial farming in the late 1860s, agitating for oyster leasing in 1880. His vast estate stretched from Botany Bay to Port Hacking, with his imposing mansion The Warren being built on the Cook's River in 1870.

This drawing with its humorous title draws attention to both the desire for oysters at "high table" (the outlines of a substantial home may be glimpsed in the background) and the intimate foraging of a woman on her haunches plying for oysters.

Price (AUD): $1,950.00  other currencies Ref: #4504855