Exhibition | Napoleon’s Artists in Australia

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on May 21, 2015


Lagostrophus fasciatus (Banded Hare Wallaby), Péron and Lesueur, 1807, Watercolour and ink on paper, Western Australia (Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle du Havre).

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Press release (15 May 2015)  from the National Museum of Australia:

Napoleon’s Artists in Australia
South Australian Maritime Museum, Adelaide, from July 2016
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart, from early 2017
National Museum of Australia, Canberra, from September 2017

Exquisite illustrations by French artists made during Nicolas Baudin’s exploration of Australia will come to Australia as the result of a deal clinched in Canberra between the Museum of Natural History in Le Havre, France and six Australian museums. Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the French and Australian museums, stunning original watercolours and drawings by Baudin expedition artists Charles-Alexandre Lesueur and Nicolas-Martin Petit will be showcased at venues across the country.


New Holland – Mororé, Nicolas-Martin Petit, Pierre noire or charcoal and sanguine on paper (Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle du Havre)

The French artists explored Australian waters between 1800 and 1804 with the expedition of Baudin, who was commissioned by Napoléon Bonaparte, First Consul of France, to investigate Nouvelle Hollande—particularly its uncharted southern coast. As Baudin’s two ships charted the continent’s coastline, the artists captured the wonders of a new land in vivid watercolours of animals, people, and landscapes.

The working title of the planned exhibition is Napoleon’s Artists in Australia. Most of the anticipated 100 illustrations have never been displayed in Australia before. The project was instigated by the Museum of Natural History in Le Havre and the South Australian Maritime Museum (Adelaide). It also involves the Australian National Maritime Museum (Sydney), the Western Australian Museum (Perth), the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (Launceston), the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (Hobart), and the National Museum of Australia (Canberra).

Minister for the Arts, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, welcomed the collaboration. “This partnership will allow audiences across the country to see unique depictions of life in Australia though French eyes,” said Senator Brandis.

National Museum of Australia director Mathew Trinca said that the illustrations are a rare window into the lives of the First Australians before European settlement. “These illustrations provide unique insights into life in Australia before European colonisation and I’m excited to be involved in bringing them to the country,” said Dr Trinca.

A delegation from France, led by the Mayor of Le Havre, Edouard Philippe, was on hand in Canberra to sign the MOU.

New Holland - Mororé, Nicolas-Martin Petit, Pierre noire or charcoal and sanguine on paper (Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle du Havre)

New Holland – Mororé, Nicolas-Martin Petit, Pierre noire or charcoal and sanguine on paper (Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle du Havre)

Museum of Natural History director, Cedric Cremiere said: “It is wonderful that after that first French encounter with Australia more than 200 years ago, we can share these discoveries and sense of wonder with Australian audiences.”

The French Ambassador to Australia, Christophe Lecourtier, said Lesueur was a magnificent artist, a pioneering naturalist and an astute observer.

“These extraordinary illustrations will be showcased in six Australian museums thanks to a fruitful partnership with the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle du Havre—which was created to house Lesueur’s work—and for which we have the pleasure to thank, the Mayor of Le Havre, Mr Edouard Philippe. Mr Philippe is here with us today on his first ever visit to Australia. This is an extraordinary opportunity for the public to discover Australia, as the first explorers and French navigators did, more than 200 years ago,” said Ambassador Lecourtier.

Illustrations featured in the exhibition will include: evocative portraits of Indigenous Australians in NSW and Tasmania; images of Indigenous baskets and watercraft; whimsical watercolours of strange marine invertebrates; highly accurate profiles of the coastline; and drawings of Australian mammals such as Kangaroo Island’s dwarf emu, which have now disappeared. The exhibition will open in Adelaide in July 2016, before touring the country until May 2018. It will open in Canberra at the National Museum of Australia in September 2017.

Commemorating the Aboriginal Warrior Pemulwuy

Posted in museums by Editor on May 21, 2015


This engraving by Samuel John Neele of James Grant’s image of ‘Pimbloy’ is believed to be the only known depiction of Pemulwuy. It was published in Grant’s The Narrative of a Voyage of Discovery, Performed in His Majesty’s Vessel the Lady Nelson, of Sixty Tons Burthen, with Sliding Keels, in the Years 1800, 1801 and 1802, to New South Wales, 1803 (State Library of New South Wales Q80/18).

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Press release (20 March 2015)  from the National Museum of Australia in Canberra:

Defining Moment in Australia’s History
National Museum Honours Aboriginal Warrior Pemulwuy

The life of Aboriginal warrior Pemulwuy is commemorated today at the National Museum of Australia as part of its Defining Moments project, which explores key dates that have defined the country’s history over more than 50,000 years.

As Australia’s first Aboriginal resistance leader and a member of the Bidjigal people, Pemulwuy fought the British at Sydney from 1792 by leading attacks on farms, burning crops and dispersing stock in an attempt to starve the settlers out. After surviving a number of battles he was finally killed by settlers in June 1802 at the age of about 52 years. His body was dishonoured with the removal of his head, which was sent to the naturalist Joseph Banks in England. It has yet to be found. The National Museum is working in collaboration with the Ministry for the Arts Museums and Repatriation unit, to undertake research into the possible whereabouts of Pemulwuy’s remains.

The National Museum today [20 March 2015] unveils a plaque in its Main Hall, commemorating Pemulwuy’s campaign of resistance.

The Minister for Education and Training, Christopher Pyne, representing the Australian Government at the ceremony, said Pemulwuy was a figure of Aboriginal defiance, and his legacy remains an important part of Indigenous culture in Australia. “For some years I have been working with Alex Hartman, a member of the National Museum of Australia Council to help find and repatriate the remains of Pemulwuy,” Pyne said. “Pemulwuy’s story is an important one and he deserves to be commemorated in this way.”

National Museum director Mathew Trinca said Pemulwuy was a hero to Aboriginal people. “Pemulwuy’s daring leadership impressed enemies and comrades alike and the story of his concerted campaign of resistance against British colonists should be more widely known,” said Trinca.

Bidjigal elder Uncle Vic Simms said, “What the Museum is doing is so important for getting the history right about Pemulwuy as a Bidjigal man, who resisted and rebelled against the settlers and stood up against them when they were giving blackfellas such a hard time.”

Defining Moments is a National Museum project supported by patrons, the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG and Mr Michael Ball AM. Under the project, the National Museum is releasing online content for an initial list of 100 Defining Moments and is encouraging people to contribute their own ideas on historical dates of importance. The Museum’s list is a starting point for discussions and is not intended to be definitive.

Smithsonian American Art Museum Fellows, 2015–16

Posted in fellowships by Editor on May 21, 2015

Among this upcoming year’s 14 new Smithsonian American Art Museum Fellows is

Emily Casey, Terra Foundation Predoctoral Fellow in American Art, University of Delaware; “Waterscapes: Representing the Sea in the American Imagination, 1760–1815.”

A full list is available here»

Since 1970, the museum has hosted more than 565 scholars who now occupy positions in academic and cultural institutions across the United States and in Australia, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East and South America. Fellowship opportunities include the Joe and Wanda Corn Fellowship for research that spans American art and American history; the Douglass Foundation Fellowship; the Patricia and Phillip Frost Fellowship; the George Gurney Fellowship; the James Renwick Fellowship in American Craft; the Sara Roby Fellowship in 20th-Century American Realism; the Joshua C. Taylor Fellowship; the Terra Foundation for American Art Fellowships for the cross-cultural study of art of the United States; the William H. Truettner Fellowship; and the Wyeth Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship for the study of excellence in all aspects of American art. The museum also hosts fellows supported by the Smithsonian’s general fellowship fund. For additional information, call (202) 633-8353 or email americanartfellowships@si.edu. The deadline for applications is December 1, 2016.

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