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Corroboree dance

Date: c 1845
Overall: 180 x 280 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Engraving
Object No: 00009035

User Terms

    This engraving titled 'Corrobory (dance) N.H.' depicts an Indigenous Australian corroboree around a campfire in the Illawarra region of New South Wales in 1839.

    Engraved by E G Dunnell from a drawing by Alfred Thomas Agate (a member of the United States Exploring Expedition), this image was first published in Charles Wilkes' 'Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition' in 1845.
    SignificanceThis engraving highlights the activity of American explorers in the Illawarra region of New South Wales during the United States Exploring Expedition of 1838-1842. Published in Charles Wilkes' 'Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition' in 1845, this engraving contributed to the exposure of the Indigenous Peoples of Australia to the American public.
    HistoryAlfred Thomas Agate was one of the official artists (along with Joseph Drayton) of the United States Exploring Expedition of 1838-42, under Captain Charles Wilkes. Members of the Expedition visited the Illawarra region in early January 1840.

    The United States Exploring Expedition was the first government funded scientific hydrographic survey undertaken by the United States. The four-year voyage from 1838-1842 was lead by Lieutenant Charles Wilkes and comprised a naval squadron of six vessel. Wilkes left Virginia in March 1838 and headed down the east coast of South America, calling into Rio de Janeiro. He rounded Cape Horn and crossed the Pacific and called into Samoa and Sydney before turning south to explore Antarctica. Wilkes was the first explorer to ascertain that Antarctica was a separate continent and he mapped a large part of the eastern coastline. He then headed north to Fiji and Hawaii.

    In 1841 he explored the west coast of North America before crossing the Pacific again and returned to New York via the Cape of Good Hope. During the course of the voyage, Wilkes lost two ships and 28 men and was court-martialed upon his return. Although absolved for the loss of the ships and men, Wilkes was reprimanded for the harsh treatment of subordinates and for handing out illegal punishments. He undertook some more survey work but was mainly involved with writing the report of the voyage until 1861.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Corroboree dance

    Primary title: CORROBORY (DANCE) NH

    Related People
    Engraver: E G Dunnell

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