A very rare early topographical view of the birthplace of the colony of South Australia. The artist is looking out to sea across the small settlement, taking in a handful of cottages or fishermen's huts, perhaps the 'Custom-house', a post-and-rail paddock, a solid and solitary tree stump, a lone pedestrian, a beached hulk, and on the water, a sailing ship making its departure. There is not much colour in the scene - perhaps there never was, especially to a new chum, if a contemporary account that notes 'The summer of 1840 set in unusually hot and trying' can be relied upon ('Memories of Early Days in South Australia', 1882). Nothing much has changed on that score . The invaluable 'Dictionary of Australian Artists. Painters, Sketchers, Photographers and Engravers to 1870', edited by Joan Kerr, contains half a page on Solly. The following note incorporates and expands on that information. The artist arrived in South Australia on the 'Brightman' on 13 December 1840 (which narrows the period when this watercolour was produced to within about a fortnight). In March 1856 he married Jane Isabella Watts, the youngest daughter of the postmaster-general of South Australia (not to be confused with her namesake, whose anonymous memoir is quoted above). He then relocated to Tasmania, where he was assistant colonial secretary from 1857 to 1894. 'No information survives about Solly's training as an artist, but in his 1856 account of his family he refers to the artistic talent of his three sisters. As he was the youngest child, it is possible that his sisters influenced his artistic development. His earliest drawings date from the late 1830s, when he was aged about nineteen, and continue until about 1894, when he was seventy-four. They are mainly landscapes, in pen, pencil or watercolour'. (The dictionary also contains an entry for one of the sisters, Amelia Solly [1811-1902]). Benjamin Solly's work is rarely encountered, and material such as this item, produced within days of his arrival in the fledgling colony of South Australia as a 20-year old immigrant, is an exciting discovery worthy of note. Please use the 'Ask Bookseller a Question' link below to confirm availability and postage charges. Bookseller Inventory #
Title: 'Glenelg, Holdfast Bay, 1840'. An original ...
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