PANORAMA OF SYDNEY FROM THE RAREST OF ALL FRENCH PACIFIC VOYAGE ACCOUNTS
“Vue de Sydney et l’entrée de la Rivière de Paramatta (1ere et 2eme feuille)“. Two lithographs by Thierry and Sabatier after Theodore Mesnard. From the Atlas to the Voyage autour du Monde sur la fregate Venus pendant les années 1836-1839 (plates 63 and 64). Published in Paris, 1842. With original hand colouring. Size (each) approx. 20 x 44 cm.
Under the cover of scientific research, the French Restoration rivived the tradition of great discoveries. The expedition under the command of admiral Dupetit-Thouars of the frigate Venus, searched for ports of call or territories to conquer. Mesnard a naval cadet, was the artist on board of the Venus. The French expedition visited Sydney for two weeks in November 1838. The voyage caused a stir in British circles around the world, as it was rumoured that it intended to claim New Zealand as a colony.
The view of Sydney is from a point on the harbour north-east of Pinchgut, shown as a rocky outcrop in centre foreground. At the extreme left is Garden Island and the spire of St James’ Church appears above Mrs Macquaries Point. Beyond is the entrance to Parramatta River, with Goat Island front right, and the Venus sailing in the foreground.
The locals called Pinchgut Mat-te-wan-ye, the Europeans first called it Rock Island. Later hewn down, reconstructed and renamed Fort Denison, but in the imagined world of convict Sydney, always called Pinchgut. It was the location of supposed dark deeds and generator of cheerfully black urban myths. Visions of the remnants of a man called Morgan, strung up on a gibbet and swinging in the breeze, his decayed remains intended to act as an exemple to others. Comdemned to hang for murder, when asked for any last words, he is supposed to have calmly surveyed the scene and remarked “you have here indeed a beautiful harbour.”
Literature: “Sydney Vistas – panoramic views 1788-1995”, catalogue to the exhibition at the Focus Gallery, Museum of Sydney (1995), no. 10.
Price (for the pair): Euro 2.150,-