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Sydney Harbour, 1856

Date: 1856
Overall: 605 x 805 x 75 mm
Medium: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Painting
Object No: 00003104
Place Manufactured:Sydney Harbour
Related Place:Sydney Harbour,

User Terms

    A painting tiled 'Sydney Harbour' by artist Henry Gritten. Sydney Harbour was a busy port in the 19th century, crowded with sailing ships and steam vessels conducting trade. This painting demonstrates the size, beauty and activity of the Harbour during the busy decade of the Australian gold rush. Pinchgut Island with the foundation stones of Fort Denison is visible and a number of international vessels, including a three-masted American clipper ship can be seen. Gritten painted several views of Sydney during his visit to the city, with this believed to be one of the last depictions he made before leaving.
    SignificanceThis picturesque representation of Sydney Harbour shows the high level of maritime traffic it experienced during the 1800s.
    HistoryBorn in 1818 in London, Henry Gritten moved to New York in 1850. In 1853 he moved to Melbourne and immediately went prospecting in Bendigo. After returning from the Victorian goldfields Gritten moved to Sydney. He then visited Hobart in 1856 and painted a number of views of the city. He remained in Hobart and later Launceston until 1863 when he moved back to Melbourne.

    This painting highlights the level of activity in Sydney Hatrbour during the mid-19th century. Issues related to domestic trade and international transportation can be clearly focused within the commercial vitality visible in various areas of the image. The fact that Gritten travelled from the United States to Australia with the 1853 goldrush also offers the opportunity to discuss the wide variety of people who were travelling around the world in search of their fortunes on the diggings.

    Gritten's work was included in the first exhibition of Australian painting at the new National Gallery of Victoria in 1864. The Gallery acquired one of his landscapes in 1866. In 1870 he became a founding member of the Victorian Academy of Arts. Gritten died in 1873.

    Sydney underwent significant economic growth in the 1850s, largely assisted by an increase in shipping activities and trade, stimulated by factors such as the Australian gold rush. The size and depth of the Harbour brought ships carrying cedar, wool, agriculture, coal, tea, whaling products and passengers. This high level of shipping trade and activity was prevalent in the Harbour until the start of the First World War.

    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Sydney Harbour, 1856

    Web title: Sydney Harbour, 1856

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