Robert DOWLING
England 1827 – England 1886
Australia 1834-1857, 1884-1886

Tasmanian Aborigines 1856-57
oil on canvas
63.6 (h) x 118.6 (w) cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne , Purchased 1949

Tasmanian Aborigines, painted in Launceston, is a recreated scene from the past, based on Thomas Bock’s small watercolour portraits of the 1830s and Dowling’s own subsequent re-working of these images. The grouping is more complex than in his depictions of the Victorian Aboriginal people, the figures are more resolved anatomically, and are integrated into the landscape. They are shown wearing traditional clothing.

Dowling identified the figures on the reverse as follows: Woureddy of Bruny Island and his wife Trucannini (Truggernana) of Recherche Bay; Larratong and Tunnerminnerwate (‘Jack’) of Cape Grim; Jimmy of Hampshire Hills; Manalargenna and Maulboyheener (‘Timmy’) of the East Coast; Numbloote (‘Jinny’) of Port Sorrell and Wortabowigee (‘Jinny’) of the West Coast.