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Marble bust of Edward Orpen Moriarty

Date: 1887
Dimensions:
Overall: 590 × 520 × 280 mm, 65 kg
Medium: Marble
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Art
Object Name: Sculpture
Object No: 00054870

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    Description
    Carved in 1887 this traditional realist marble bust was possibly commissioned when Moriarty was considering retirement from his position as Chief Engineer Harbours and Rivers. He had been ill for some time when in August 1888 he was given an extra six months leave and a retirement date (Trove Evening News 1 August 1888) after 30 years distinguished service. The sculptor Achille Simonetti was by then the pre-eminent sculptor in the colony who was awarded a large number of public and private commissions including the allegorical figurative works on the NSW Colonial Secretary's Department building and the large monument to Governor Arthur Phillip in Sydney's Hyde Park.
    SignificanceThis traditional realist portrait in marble represents an important maritime identity of the late 19th century, Edward Orpen Moriarty, made by an equally important contemporary sculptor, Achille Simonetti. It testifies to the esteem in which the position of Engineer-in-chief of harbours and rivers was held and the critical role Moriarty played in the development of colonial infrastructure from 1849 until he retired ill in 1888 and left the colony for Britain after 1889. On the historical record and in public consciousness this marble bust makes visible the often invisible roles critical to the maritime world and the growth of the colonies.

    Moriarty's work included managing navigation harbour and defence infrastructure (plans for Sutherland Dock Cockatoo Island) and bridge building, (the first Pyrmont Bridge 1965-66), water supply (the schemes for Wollongong, Bathurst, Wagga Wagga, Albury and Hunter Valley towns, and in 1867 commissioner for Sydney's water supply) and flood remediation and management (Hunter river 1869-70). Moriarty was also a prominent member of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron.


    HistoryEdward Orpen Moriarty (1825-1896) was born in County Kerry and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He emigrated to Sydney with his family and set up as a consulting engineer and surveyor. He became an assistant in the Surveyor-General's Department in 1849 . In 1853-55 he was engineer and surveyor (later chairman) for the Steam Navigation Board and in 1855-58 engineer for Hunter River improvements. In October 1858 he became engineer-in-chief for harbours and river navigation in the Department of Works with a salary of £1100 and in 1862 commissioner and engineer-in-chief for roads and in 1865 a superannuation fund commissioner.

    Moriarty was a captain in the Volunteer Artillery from 1869 serving on the commission on defence from foreign aggression and on the board for inspecting and maintaining the supply of colonial warlike stores. In 1871-73 he was captain of the Engineers Corps, Volunteer Rifles.

    Moriarty's work included managing navigation, harbour and defence infrastructure (including the Sutherland Dock Cockatoo Island) and bridge building, (in Penrith Nepean and the first Pyrmont Bridge 1965-66), water supply (the schemes for Wollongong, Bathurst, Wagga Wagga, Albury and Hunter Valley towns, while in 1867 he was commissioner for Sydney's water supply) and flood remediation and management (Hunter river 1869-70). From 1877 he oversaw construction of a 1.6km breakwater by prison labour at Trial Bay. Work stopped in 1903 after over £160,000 had been spent.

    Edward Orpen Moriarty was also a councillor of the Philosophical Society and a prominent member of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron.

    Made in 1887 the bust was commissioned when Moriarty was considering retirement. He had been ill for some time when in August 1888 he was given an extra six months leave and a retirement date (Trove Evening News 1 August 1888) after 30 years distinguished service. Moriarty retired on 31 December 1888 with a pension of £791 13s. After his formal retirement function in 1889, when presented with a silver salver and testimonial illuminated address, he returned to England where he died 18 September 1896.

    Achille Simonetti was by then the pre-eminent sculptor in the colony who was awarded a large number of public and private commissions including the allegorical figurative works on the Colonial Secretary's Department building and the large monument to Governor Arthur Phillip in Sydney's Hyde Park.
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