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Rare Australian Fern Pine of New South Wales. c1799.

Rare Australian Fern Pine of New South Wales. c1799.


by Harrison Cluse & Co

Australian Macrozamia Cycad, small copperplate engraving with contemporary hand-colour from the Naturalist's Pocket Magazine; or, Compleat Cabinet of Curiosities and Beauties of Nature, containing elegant coloured prints of birds, fishes, flowers, insects, quadrupeds, shells, and other natural productions.." eight anonymously compiled books published in London between 1798 and 1802 by Harrison, Cluse & Co. No 78 Fleet Street. The Fern Pine reportedly had “a very pleasing appearance; and add, considerably, to the picturesque scenery, which so charms the European traveler, in his rides through the enchanting woods of this delightful country”.

Most likely the engravings were after paintings by the convict artist, Thomas Watling, much of whose work was sent to Britain. Watling made an immeasurable contribution to our knowledge of colonial days in Australia with his visual recording of views and early discoveries of nature in New South Wales.

Born in 1762, Watling's parents died when he was very young. Cared for by a maiden aunt, he was well-educated, with comprehensive tuition in art. Watling formed his own art academy. After a brief period in Glasgow as a coach and chaise painter he returned to Dumfries - where he was accused of forging guinea bank notes. He denied guilt, but rather than risk conviction and execution,Watling requested transportation to Australia. In Sydney Watling was assigned to ardent naturalist, surgeon-general John White, who greatly utilized his artistic skill. When White left the colony at the end of 1794 it is thought that Watling was assigned to judge-advocate David Collins, as Collins's An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales used sketches by Watling. Both publications were published in London between 1798 and 1802.

Governor John Hunter granted Watling a conditional pardon in 1796, and an absolute pardon the following year. Watling took his son and returned to Scotland. In 1806 Watling was tried in Edinburgh for a series of forgeries, but was discharged with a verdict of "not proven". He and his son then moved to London but could not support themselves. Watling appealed for assistance from Hunter (by then an admiral), and members of the Royal Academy - before succumbing to cancer.

This engraving has age-discolouration but is otherwise in good condition except for a small foxing spot towards the top of the page which measures 150 x 85mm (approximately 6 x 3 3/8 inches). The accompanying text is available.

Stock Number: apAbHarr1Price: $275.00