We had the pleasure of visiting [the studio of Benjamin Duterrau.]

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We had the pleasure of visiting [the studio of Benjamin Duterrau.]


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Hobart Town Courier (Hobart)


20 December 1833, page 2, column 4.

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20 December 1833





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We had the pleasure the other day in visiting Mr Duterrau’s collection of paintings in Campbell-Street, to be agreeably surprised by remarkably striking portraits of some of our old sable acquaintances the aborigines of this island. They are painted of the natural size in three-fourth lengths, having come to Mr. Duterrau and stood till he took their likeness with the greatest satisfaction. They are all drawn exactly in the native garb. Wooready the native of Brune island, who has attended Mr. Robinson in all his expeditions, has his hair smeared in the usual way with grease and ochre, three rows of small shining univalve shells strung round his neck, and the jaw bone of his deceased friend suspended on his breast. This relic of affection is carefully wrapped round with the small string which these interesting people make from the fibres of the large flag or juncus which grows in all parts of the island. They obtain it by passing the green flags over fire until they have stripped off the more friable part of the green bark and then the fibres which are strong are easily twisted into threads. A kangaroo skin with the fur inside it is passed round him and fastened over the shoulder in the usual manner in the bush, before they obtained blankets from the whites, and his brawny athletic arm is stretched out to wield the spear. His wife Truganina, the very picture of good humour, stands beside him, with her head shaved according to the custom by her husband with a sharp-edged flint. Besides these, Mr. Duterrau has in like manner painted a powerful likeness of the chief Manalagana and his wife, two most excellent well disposed people, who, with the others, have been of immense service to Mr. Robinson, and through him to the colony in his several arduous and often dangerous expeditions to conciliate their countrymen, and are now we learn stationed about Campbell town doing their best endeavour to assist in ridding the country of the dreadful scourge of the flocks, the ravenous wild dogs. Great praise is due to Mr Duterrau for his thus fixing on canvass which may commemorate and hand down to posterity for hundreds of years to come so close a resemblance in their original appearance and costume of the race now all but extinct. His Excellency with his family, we learn, was pleased the other day to view these interesting portraits, which he recognised and acknowledged to be most perfect likenesses. We hope the public spirit of the colony will not allow these effort’s of Mr. Duterrau’s pencil to lie in oblivion nor to pass unrecompensed. We are happy however to see that the taste for the fine arts is beginning to spring up, and that Mr. Duterrau is now engaged in painting the portraits of several ladies and gentlemen.

We cannot allow this opportunity to pass without again reminding our countrymen of the culpable neglect and indeed ingratitude in continuing so supinely to overlook and let pass unrewarded and unacknowledged the immense service rendered to the country by Mr. Robinson who has completely restored this once outraged country to peace and security in conciliating and removing the blacks. The indefatigable individual has again set out to the west to bring in the little remnant that is still at large in that quarter. The various public meetings that are now taking place at the desire of His Excellency to consider and report on the proposed fencing act, afford a good opportunity to the parties who assemble to originate and carry into effect some decisive plan to testify to Mr. Robinson and his family the sense the community at large entertains of the great work he has done, though without the least force or violence, so nobly achieved.

[Hobart Town Courier, 20 December 1833, p.2, col.4]