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Old hulk at Darling Harbour and two men by a gum tree

Date: 1878
Overall: 186 x 115 mm, 20 g
Medium: Pencil on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Josef Lebovic Gallery
Object Name: Drawing
Object No: 00029648
Place Manufactured:Darling Harbour

User Terms

    This notebook paper has illustrations on both sides, with one side featuring a pencil sketch of an old hulk at Darling Harbour with a sailing ship in the background and floating barrel in the foreground. On the reverse is a landscape sketch, showing two men at the base of large gum trees at the foreshore of a harbour with a yacht in the distance. These sketches are from the earliest phase of Mahony's career and were possible studies for proposed later works.
    SignificanceThese early sketches record the artistic development of Francis Prout Mahony - one of the first Australian born artists - who helped develop the sentiment of pioneering Australia at a time of growing national identity.
    HistoryFrancis Prout Mahony (generally known as Frank Mahony) was born in Melbourne in 1862. He came to Sydney in 1872 and studied at the New South Wales Academy of Art. His emergence as an artist dates from his employment on The Picturesque Atlas of Australia (1886) and two of his contributions, the spearing of Edmund Kennedy and Edward John Eyre's expedition along the coast with Wylie, became part of the mythology surrounding the European exploration of Australia.

    From 1888 onwards, Mahony was one of Australia's best known artists and illustrators, specialising in horses and action scenes which stimulated and reflected national sentiment, helping to fashion the legends of pioneering Australia. Although he produced a number of oils he is better known for his pencil sketches and etchings published in journals such as the Sydney Mail, the Bulletin, The Illustrated Sydney News, The Antipodean and The Australian Town and Country Journal. Mahony also illustrated the works of A B Paterson, Henry Lawson, Barcroft Boake and Ethel Pedley. Mahony was a founding council-member in 1895 of the Society of Artists, Sydney, an instructor for the Art Society of New South Wales and a member of the Sydney based Dawn to Dusk Club.

    In 1904 he went to England, but failed to gain recognition as an artist and died there in relative obscurity in 1916. According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography (1986) following his death a memorial to 'our first born Australian artist' was erected on his grave by his Australian admirers.

    Although he later specialised in action scenes based on the frontier, explorer and pastoralist themes it is no wonder that the young Mahony was drawn to the activity and colour of the maritime industries of Darling Harbour and Cockle Bay, recording some of the more significant vessels which berthed there including the CUTTY SARK and SAPPHO.

    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Old hulk at darling Harbour and two men by a gum tree

    Web title: Old hulk at Darling Harbour and two men by a gum tree

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