Augustus Earle
'Bungaree, a native of New South Wales' c. 1826
Rex Nan Kivell collection: National Library of Australia and National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Bungaree, from the Broken Bay area of New South Wales, was the most famous Indigenous Australian in the early nineteenth century. He gained his fame by assisting the colonists and by becoming a leader of the Indigenous people in Sydney until his death in 1830. As a reward for his services, various governors and officers gave Bungaree discarded uniforms and a cocked hat. In 1815 Governor Macquarie decorated Bungaree with a breastplate inscribed with the fictitious title 'Chief of the Broken Bay Tribe'.

In this portrait Earle has depicted Bungaree welcoming strangers to the colony, with Fort Macquarie and Sydney Harbour in the background. He cast Bungaree in the pose of a landowning gentleman, parodying colonial society and emphasising the tragedy of Indigenous peoples' loss of their native land.

Augustus Earle was the most accomplished artist working in New South Wales in the 1820s, and although he only remained in the colony for just over three years, he quickly established himself as Sydney's leading artist. He sometimes depicted his own adventures and included himself in his landscapes, but his main income came from portrait commissions from Sydney's new wealth.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008

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Australian Art

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The National Gallery of Australia's collection of Australian art reflects its unique national responsibility to present the story of visual art in Australia.

The collection includes works of consistently high quality and outstanding aesthetic merit -- works by artists from all Australian states and territories and by Australian artists working overseas, as well as works by artists living for a time in Australia. The wide-ranging


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The National Gallery of Australia's collection of Australian art reflects its unique national responsibility to present the story of visual art in Australia.

The collection includes works of consistently high quality and outstanding aesthetic merit -- works by artists from all Australian states and territories and by Australian artists working overseas, as well as works by artists living for a time in Australia. The wide-ranging collection of the work of Indigenous artists from all regions and urban areas of Australia is covered under Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.

The Gallery's permanent displays of Australian art are presented in an integrated and broadly chronological arrangement of works from the earliest colonial period to the present day: paintings and sculptures, works on paper, photographs and other photomedia, decorative arts and design. Because of New Zealand's geographical and historical proximity to Australia, works by New Zealand artists are collected selectively and often displayed alongside Australian works.

 

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