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Richard A W Green Champion of England and Australia

Date: 1863
Overall: 568 x 827 mm
Frame: 725 x 980 mm
Medium: Paper, ink
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Ken Pharo
Object Name: Lithograph
Object No: 00044752

User Terms

    This is one of at least two lithograph versions of a portrait drawn by Aston Bragg of champion sculler Richard A Green. This version titled 'Richard A W Green Champion of England and Australia' was published in October 1863 by George Newbold of the Strand, London. Below the image is a list of Green's principal sculling performances.

    The scene is a view of the Thames River at Putney. On the far shore is Henry Kelley's establishment, the Bell Tavern, flying the New South Wales ensign in the upper left. The London Rowing Club is also visible on the far shore. Richard Green stayed at the Bell Tavern and was coached by Henry Kelley. Crowds of spectators line the far shore of the river. In the foreground is Richard Augustus Willoughby Green seated in STAR OF AUSTRALIA, the tubular single scull built by his brother Henry Green and designed by his other brother George Green, 1863. In the mid ground is a pilot boat with Green's gesturing steersman, possibly his coach Henry Kelley in the bow.
    SignificanceThis lithograph is an early representation of an Australian champion sculler and was the last issue of a large folio portrait of a professional sculler to be published in London. Green was Australia's first international sporting hero, and the lithograph documents an important event in his career.

    HistoryRichard Augustus Willoughby Green (1836-1921) was born and raised in Sydney. Both he and his brother Henry were champion scullers in Sydney, and by the early 1860s Richard had won races against prominent English scullers who had immigrated to Sydney thereby showing he was up to international standard. These were wager races with considerable sums of prize money. Green's supporters set up a wager race against the best professional scullers in England to be held in Sydney in 1863. No English scullers accepted the challenge and Green's backers were reluctant to finance a challenge in England that they could not witness.

    This was happening at a time when sport was becoming a means for the colonies in Australia and New Zealand to challenge their English rulers and express their nationalism. English cricket teams toured the colonies in 1861-2 and 1863-4. In the same year that Green challenged the English scullers, a team of Victorian rifle shooters went to England to compete, and a horse race with a purse of 10,000 pounds was offered to match English and colonial race horses. Green's challenge was seen as a reply to the English defeat of the colonial cricketers in the 1861-2 tour and his exploits were closely followed in both countries.

    The sport of sculling was considered to be more respectable than boxing and as it did not involve handicapping like cricket it was a significant measure of international competition. Against this background Green decided to challenge for the Thames Championship in 1863, a race that was unofficially called a world championship. Green's brother George designed his single scull STAR OF AUSTRALIA, which had a unique tapered tubular shaped hull form. Green's other brother Henry built it at his Lavender Bay boatyard in Sydney. It is a rare example of streamlining in hull design.

    Contemporary media accounts billed the challenge race held on 16 June 1863 on the Thames River at Putney as the 'Championship of the World'. Green raced against the reigning English champion Richard Chambers of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
    During the race Green collapsed while in front of his rival and finished four minutes behind in a time of 29 minutes. He attributed his collapse to illness on the morning of the race, and spasms during the race. He immediately re-challenged Chambers and both scullers put down their deposits. Chambers decided not to defend his title and returned to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, forfeiting his deposit and leaving Green technically the Champion of the Thames. On 21st July 1863 Green won the 'Great Sculling Race Open to the World' at the Thames National Regatta, and on the same day, with his coach Henry Kelley, won the 'Great Pair Oared Race open to the World'.

    Green returned to Australia on the steamer GREAT BRITAIN, which also carried the second English cricket team to visit Australia. A banquet was held for Green on 11 January 1864 at the Masonic Hall in Sydney as a tribute to 'his pluck and enterprise'. The hall was decorated with flags including the New South Wales (Australian) Ensign, but few people turned up. By the late 1860s he was no longer competing regularly and is thought to have managed and trained Edward Trickett during his successful challenge for the World Championship in 1876. This heralded a golden age of sculling for Australia with a succession of world champions up to World War I. When Henry Searle died of typhoid enroute to Australia after winning the World Championship in 1889, Green was one of the coffin-bearers at his funeral.

    The Home News 26 May 1863 reported 'Green has given several sittings in his boat [STAR OF AUSTRALIA] the tubular one for a picture, from which there will be a lithograph taken. Should he be victorious, the copies will, on leaving out shores, be of great value, and, on the other hand, should defeat be the fate of the gallant aspirant, they will be a memento to recall to memory the man who travelled 10,000 miles to make a match to row for the championship'. This contest between Australian Champion Richard Green and English Champion Robert Chambers was heralded in the English press as a contest for the Championship of the world and a prize of £400.

    In the early days of organised sport professional scullers enjoyed fame and public recognition that was equaled only by the best boxers. The very best were memorialised in large folio portrait prints which were hung in public houses and boat clubs. These views were created by public demand rather than aesthetic considerations. This is believed to be the last major portrait of a professional sculler in this format that was issued by a London publisher. The less expensive and easily accessible illustrated newspaper wood engravings were taking over this market for sporting prints. The emergence of photography would also have an impact of the sporting print market.

    This is thought to be the last major portrait of a professional sculler in this format that was issued by a London publisher. The less expensive and more easily accessible illustrated newspaper wood engravings undercut the sales of these lithographs. The English public tended to favour local sporting heroes and it would have been harder to sell a portrait of a non-Tideway champion like Green in a London Market. The addition of the text was needed to help identify this Australian sculler and promote his sporting achievements.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Richard A W Green Champion of England and Australia

    Primary title: Richard A W Green Champion of England and Australia

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