A COLLECTION OF SKETCHES FROM HORROCKS EXPEDITION, 1846 AND SOUTH AUSTRALIA, c.1846

Part 1: Important Fine Art
Melbourne
28 November 2012
37

S.T. GILL

(1818 - 1880)
A COLLECTION OF SKETCHES FROM HORROCKS EXPEDITION, 1846 AND SOUTH AUSTRALIA, c.1846

ten sepia watercolours

Estimate: 
$80,000 - 120,000 (10)
Sold for $96,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 27 - 28 November 2012, Melbourne
Provenance

Deutscher Fine Art, Melbourne
Private collection, Melbourne, acquired from the above in 1992

 

(i) SPENCERS GULF FROM FLINDERS RANGE, SOUTH OF MT BROWN, SOUTH AUSTRALIA
15.0 x 22.0 cm
inscribed lower right: Spencers Gulf from Flinders Range / So of Mt Brown / SoA
inscribed verso: Mr Bishop / Spencers Gulf from Flinders Range South of / Mount Brown - looking acrofs [sic] to the Port Lincoln country / From original skitch [sic] - taken on Horrocks N.W. Expedition / August 12th 1846 / So Australia

(ii) COUNTRY N.W. OF POINT ENCOUNTER, HORROCKS N.W. EXPEDITION
14.5 x 21.5 cm
inscribed upper right: John Horrocks
inscribed verso: N1 / Country NW of Point Encounter - / Showing the scrub covered plain - and the high land / in the distance, for which Horrocks was making when / the accident put a stop to his procee[d]ing - From original / sketch taken in the after-noon of the same day that / the attack of the blacks took place in the Evening / under the hill the figures are represented to be on / in the sketch - A circumstance which induced Horrocks / to name the hill which ends at its highest end abruptly - Point Encounter - situated about (West from De[?p] / Creek and distant about 30 miles) from the neck of the creek / So of Lake Torrent near 10 miles - Horrocks's NW Expedition / So Australia / August 28th/46

(iii) VALLEY SOUTH OF MT BROWN, FLINDERS RANGE
16.0 x 23.0 cm
signed with initials lower left: S.T.G
inscribed lower right: Valley So of Mt Brown / F. Range / S.A. / Flinders Range - Valley & Creek - one mile So of Mt Brown distant from Adelaide / 22.9 Miles / From original sketch taken on Horrocks's N W Expedition / August 24th 1846 / No 3 / Sketches Nos 1. 2. & 3. are adapted to convey an idea of the wild mountain / scenery of So Australia - Flinders Range being one of the highest / and most extensive chains of Mountains in the province / and save at the extreme south affording but little herbage / to the graziers - northward the Kangaroo Emu & Rock Wallaby / are to be met with in great numbers - particularly on the / western side / S.T.G.

(iv) SALT LAKE, N.W. OF MT ARDEN, HORROCKS N.W. EXPEDITION
14.0 x 21.0 cm
inscribed upper centre - John Horrocks
signed with initials lower left: S T G
inscribed indistinctly lower centre to lower right: Salt Lake N.W. of Mt Arden, Horrock N W Exp
inscribed verso: N2 / Horrocks Halting at the Salt Lake - 75 Miles NW. of Mt Arden / and which may be said to be the furthest point he attained / the fatal accident occuring in two hours after the sketches / representing the Lake was taken Over the back of the camel / in the extreme distance may be seen that land for which / the party were making at the time - and shown in the / former sketch - / Horrocks's N W Expedition / Sept 1st 1846 / N B the camel was imported into South Australia from / the islands of Madiera & was shot after the accident / to my Dear friend J[illeg.] Horrocks - his gun exploded when / he was in the act of drawing the charge which broke his / jaw & deprived him of his fingers from which he / died

(v) LOOKING EAST FROM MOUNT LOFTY RANGE
14.0 x 22.5 cm
signed with initials lower left: S.T.G.
inscribed indistinctly lower right: Looking E from Mt Lofty Range
inscribed verso: Looking East from Mount Lofty Range - about / 5 Miles from Adelaide - and 2 Miles north from / Mount Lofty - and the Great Eastern or Mt Barker / road - Some fine scenery occurs in this neighbourhood / and the Stringy bark forrest [sic] in the Locality - which / is much [?illeg, looks like 'enanced'] thro the winter season - by the abunda[nt] / suply [sic] of water in all the creeks formed by the ravins [sic] / and strip valleys - on either side - / So Australia sketch

(vi) EXTINCT CRATER NORTHWARD FROM A SKETCH BY CAPTAIN FROME
15.5 x 22.0 cm
signed with initials lower left: S.T.G.
inscribed lower right: EXTINCT Crater northward from a sketch / by Captn Frome
signed and inscribed verso: Mr Bishop / Skitches [sic] in So Australia / Extinct Crater northward from original sketch taken / by Captn Frome - on his northward Expedition Lat & Long & mis-laid / SamlThosGill
RELATED WORK
Extinct Crater, North of Spencer Gulf, South Australia, watercolour on paper, 17.8 x 28.5 cm, collection of the Art Gallery of South Australia, illus. p. 13 in Appleyard, R., Fargher, B. and Radford, R., S.T. Gill: The South Australian Years 1839-1852, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 1986, p. 57, cat. 27, illus. pp. 13, 57

(vii) A NATIVE WORLEY OR HABITATION
14.0 x 22.0 cm
signed with initials lower left: S T G
inscribed lower right: Native Worley / So A
inscribed verso: A Native Worley or Habitation formed of bushes or Bark / from the ajacent [sic] trees - as is most conveniant [sic] / to the builders or best adapted to the season.

(viii) THE PIPE-LIGHT
21.5 x 15.5 cm
signed with initials lower left: S T G
inscribed lower right: The pipe-light
inscribed verso: The Pipe light / The Bushman dismounted to light his pipe / at the native fire An incident in travels / which frequently occurs in & near the / settled districts - most bushmen in So A / being great smokers - as well as when / in town great drinkers - / So Australian / Sketch

(ix) CRYSTAL BROOK, NORTHWARD
14.0 x 21.5 cm
signed with initials lower left: S T G
inscribed lower right: Crystal Brook northward
inscribed verso: Crystal Brook northward / near a [illeg., looks like 'head'] sheep Station at the south end of / Flinders Range - an excellent supply of running water all thr[ough] /the year - Distant from Adelaide 160 Miles - South Australia

(x) ADELAIDE MOUNTED POLICE AND NATIVE PRISONERS
22.0 x 15.5 cm
signed with initials lower left: S.T.G.
inscribed lower right: Adelaide Mounted Police / and native prisoners
inscribed verso: Adelaide Mounted Police & Native Prisoners / Such a scam occurs on the apprehension / of such native depradators as may not / regard with nicety the existence in / their butchering vocations the diferance [sic] between the white & black mans Kangaroo - between / Brown hair & White wool - Native sheep - stealers - in custody. / So Australia sketch

Catalogue text

Samuel Thomas Gill was the great picture maker of his age. His legacy of watercolours, drawings, oils, colour lithographs, newspaper illustrations, cartoons, folios of lithographs, book of engravings, sets of 'illustrated letter paper', sheet music covers, and even bank note designs, include some of the most memorable images of his adventurous times. Goldfield subjects were so popular that they were pirated - internationally. His early drawings are remarkably refined, revealing a great eye for detail, with washes of watercolour applied with a lyrical sense of colour.1 At his height, his work was so eagerly sought after that he was frequently called upon to repeat images. Fine watercolours of the jovial Subscription Ball, Ballarat, 1854, for example, are today in the collection of the Art Gallery of Ballarat, Victoria, and the Dixson Library, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney. Furthermore, in 1869 the trustees of the then Melbourne Public Library commissioned Gill to do a set of forty watercolours, The Victorian Gold Fields During 1852-3 in which he repeated images from earlier works.

As in these sketches on offer, inland exploration and the Aboriginal peoples were among Gill's favourite subjects, attracting his early and lively interest. In 1844 he recorded Sturt's Overland Expedition Leaving Adelaide.2 The fascination was so strong that in 1846 Gill joined John Horrocks's North West Expedition. While it came to a tragic end in the death of its leader, Gill's friend, the young Horrocks, Gill's sketches and watercolours, with their detailed inscriptions, provide a fascinating record. In works such as Spencers Gulf from Flinders Range, South of Mt Brown, Gill showed his considerable skill in combining accurate detail within impressive panoramas, or recorded personal moments as in Gill and Horrocks atop a rocky hill looking over the vast north-west country, spyglass in hand. Another, Salt Lake, N.W. of Mt. Arden, Horrocks N.W. Expedition, shows Horrocks and others with the camel 'Harry', the first to be used on such an expedition.3Extinct Crater northward from a sketch by Captain Frome, however, is a separate work, indicative of Gill's voracious appetite for the new. As elsewhere, he occasionally called upon the images of others, in this case E.C. Frome the South Australian Surveyor General, to produce images of interest.4

The remaining group of wash drawings shows Gill's sympathetic interest in Aborigines, their customs, ways, and relations with whites, friendly and sour. Chief among these is The Pipe-Light, one of Gill's favourite motifs of fraternization between the native peoples and white settlers.5 Gill wrote on the verso - 'The Bushman dismounted to light his pipe at the native fire An incident in travels which frequently occurs in & near settled districts - most bushmen in So A being great smokers - as well as when in town great drinkers...' While it has been noted that the grey or sepia wash of these works was a favoured medium and its spontaneity ideally suited to taking the quick impression in the field, it seems more likely that Gill confined himself to pencil out-of doors. On the verso of a number of these sketches, Gill noted, 'From original sketch taken on Horrocks's N W Expedition...'6 The facility of the wash, however, lent itself readily to making rapid images of those subjects in great demand, its spontaneity communicating the artist's enthusiasm to the collector.

1. See Gill's Adelaide series of watercolours The Australian Months c1840-42 in the collection of the National Library of Australia, Canberra
2. Two versions in watercolour are in the collection of the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, together with a brown wash drawing in the collection of the National Library of Australia
3. The major holdings of Gill's watercolours of Horrocks's expedition are in the collections of the Art Gallery of South Australia, and the National Library of Australia, several being related in subject or scene to these works. See also Appleyard, R., Fargher, B, and Radford, R., S.T. Gill: The South Australian Years 1839-1852, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 1986, pp. 86-94
4. There are several watercolour versions of this subject by Gill after Frome in the collections of the Art Gallery of South Australia and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. See Appleyard, op. cit., pp. 57-58
5. The motif appears again in the National Library of Australia's sepia wash, Mounted Stockman Talking to Natives, and the watercolour The Pipe Light in the Dixson Library, Sydney
6. Inscribed verso on Valley South of Mt Brown, Flinders Range

DAVID THOMAS