View of Port Bowen, Queensland, August 1802

This is one of the ten paintings by Westall of Matthew Flinders' Australian voyage (1801-03) that the Admiralty commissioned from 1809 (ZBA7914, 7935-7936, 7938-7944): they were completed by him over the next three years.

It shows a view from a high vantage point, over a rocky eminence to the left, towards a distant bay also opening on the left (east) to seaward. The head of the bay is at centre with a rocky coast and a seaward promontory at left in the distance behind. The centre and right foreground comprise the edge of a sharp, rocky drop into a gulley or valley, with dense forest filling the full height of the canvas on the high ground of the artist's viewpoint. Three Aboriginal figures (two with tattoo-like markings) are climbing up over the edge of the drop, at the foot of the forest. The man in the lead is carrying a dead kangaroo or wallaby slung over his shoulder, from a hunt on the lower ground: one of those following carries a spear. Port Bowen (alternatively known today as Port Clinton) is on the north-east coast of Queensland, Australia: the modern town of Bowen is noted as exactly 20 degrees south of the Equator. The viewpoint of the picture is therefore broadly south-eastward. Traces of artist's underdrawing show through the paint in the gulley area

The painting is one of the two - the other is ZBA7944 - that Westall exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1812 (the year he was elected ARA) as 'View of a port on the east coast of New South Wales, in lat. 22° 30', South long. 150° 50' east, discovered by Capt. Flinders, Augt. 21, 1802. Painted by command of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to illustrate Capt. Flinders's voyage.' The image was engraved as one of the nine plates in Flinders ‘A Voyage to Terra Australis (1814, and also separately published that year in Westall's 'Views of Australian Scenery') and is the first in Flinders, vol. 2, illustrating text dated 25 August 1802. The plate title is‘View of Port Bowen, from behind the Watering Gully’, which is presumably the valley in the foreground, with a stream below from which the ship filled its casks. For other notes on the group see ZBA7914.

Object Details

ID: ZBA7941
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Display - Pacific Encounters Gallery
Creator: Westall, William
Date made: circa 1811
People: Brook Street ?; Royal Academy of Arts, London
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Frame: 1075 mm x 1475 mm x 88 mm;Painting: 871 mm x 1278 mm

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