Printed by C. Hullmandel and published by J. Cross, London 1830
Purchased by the current owner from antiquarian book seller in London in 2012
Private Collection, Vic
Artwork 29 x 20.5 cm : Frame 47 x 38.5 cm
Augustus Earle was the most accomplished artist working in New South Wales in the 1820s, and although he only remained in the colony for just over three years, he quickly established himself as Sydney’s leading artist. He sometimes depicted his own adventures and included himself in his landscapes, but his main income came from portrait commissions from Sydney’s new wealth.
Bungaree, from the Broken Bay area of New South Wales, was the most famous Indigenous Australian in the early nineteenth century. He gained his fame by assisting the colonists and by becoming a leader of the Indigenous people in Sydney until his death in 1830. As a reward for his services, various governors and officers gave Bungaree discarded uniforms and a cocked hat. In 1815 Governor Macquarie decorated Bungaree with a breastplate inscribed with the fictitious title ‘Chief of the Broken Bay Tribe’.
In this portrait Earle has depicted Bungaree welcoming strangers to the colony, with colonial houses in the background. He cast Bungaree in the pose of a landowning gentleman, parodying colonial society and emphasising the tragedy of the Indigenous peoples’ loss of their native land. Beside him sits his wife Goosberry on one side and two bottles of drink nestled in a wicker basket on the other.*
* From National Gallery of Australia collection notesShare