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Augustus Earle

A Government Jail Gang - Sydney N. S. Wales, 1830
lithograph, printed in black ink, from one stone 19.8 cm x 28.4 cm (image size) inscribed ‘A. Earle’ below image lower left inscribed with title below image lower centre inscribed ‘London. Published August 10th 1830. By J. Cross, Holbern., opposite Furni

$24,000.00 including GST

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Provenance: The Estate of the late Nicholas Packham, Sydney, 2013.


Condition: The lithograph was foxed when purchased from the Estate of Nicholas Packham and has since been expertly restored. While the full sheet size is complete there was some minimal loss of paper at each edge. The image and letterpress are complete. The work has been lined with Japanese paper. Images are available of the work during restoration. Overall the current condition of the lithograph is very good.


Comments: Augustus Earle’s depiction of A Government Jail Gang, Sydney N. S. Wales is one of the most famous images in the early-colonial art of Australia. The lithograph itself, however, is exceedingly rare. It was published in London in 1830 as part of a publication titled Views in New South Wales and Van Diemens Land. There were two Parts to the publication with 4 lithographs in each Part (for titles of the individual lithographs see endnotes). It is possible that Earle intended further Parts because, despite the title, no Tasmanian images were published in either of the first two Parts. These two Parts were not well received by the market and this was possibly the reason that no further Parts were issued. Complete sets (ie Parts 1 & 2) are virtually non-existent today and very few copies of the individual lithographs have survived either. Other contemporaneous images of Australian convicts are also rare. There are a couple of illustrations in books, such as the engraving titled ‘Landing of Convicts at Botany Bay’ which appears in Captain Watkin Tench's A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay, first published in 1789. Another engraving by Edward Backhouse produced for his cousin James Backhouse’s book Narrative of a visit to the Australian colonies, 1843, (p58) shows a convict chain gang at Sullivans Cove in Hobart carrying picks or spades and with chains attached to their ankles. (In the publication it was incorrectly titled 'A chain gang, convicts going to work near Sydney, New South Wales’). But, remarkably, it is difficult to find other images of chain gangs produced during the period. from Watkin Tench's A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay from James Backhouse, Narrative of a visit to the Australian colonies Augustus Earle’s bold lithograph shows a jail gang outside Hyde Park Barracks in Sydney. The building, designed by convict architect Francis Greenway, can be seen in the upper left of the image. Hyde Park Barracks opened in June 1819 to house c

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