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Untitled [Auxiliary steam ship]

Date: 1840s - 1870s
Overall: 380 x 530 x 15 mm
Medium: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Mary Rae Thomas
Object Name: Painting
Object No: 00042690
Related Place:Sydney Harbour, Fort Macquarie,

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    This oil painting by Joseph Fowles (1810-1878), a well-known artist and teacher in Sydney from the 1840s to the 1870s shows an auxiliary steam ship in Farm Cove, Sydney Harbour, with Government House and Fort Macquarie in the background, mid-19th century. It is very fine and exhibits Fowles characteristic delicacy. He was regarded as an eminent marine artist although his best known work today is his architectural drawings of Sydney streets and buildings. The ship in the painting is not naval but flies a flag suggesting it has an official purpose, and is possibly the Governor's vessel, while its presence in Farm Cove, below Government House, heightens this probability.
    SignificanceJoseph Fowles was a well known Sydney artist and was best known for his depictions of Sydney streets and buildings. Today his work, such as this harbour scene, is a valuable record of Sydney during its vibrant growth and expansion.
    HistoryJoseph Fowles (1810 - 1878) was a well-known artist and art teacher in Sydney from the 1840s until his death in 1878. He came to Sydney as a ship's surgeon in 1838 with claims already to a reputation as a marine painter. His diary and sketches of his voyage are held in the State Library of NSW. As well as marine works, he painted landscapes and was celebrated as a painter of racehorses. He is best known today for his fine architectural sketches, published in parts between 1848 and 1850 as 'Sydney in 1848', depicting the buildings of Sydney's main streets.

    The ship depicted in Farm Cove is almost certainly a government vessel. It is not a naval vessel and is flying a red ensign (flown by merchant shipping), but it also flies a white flag with a design including an emu and a kangaroo, suggesting an official capacity. With research it should be possible to identify the vessel and narrow down the date of the work.
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