Robert DOWLING | Aborigines of Tasmania

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

Aborigines of Tasmania 1859
oil on canvas
152.7 (h) x 304.3 (w) cm
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston , Gift of the artist to the people of Launceston, to hang in The Mechanics' Institute, 1860, transferred to Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery 1891

In comparison with the Launceston painting of Tasmanian Aborigines, this massive London work conveys a greater sense of narrative: Maulboyheener (‘Timmy’) has been hunting and carries a dead wallaby for his supper, his wife Numbloote (‘Jinny’) carries a child. Tunnerminnerwate (‘Jack’), in the distance, carries another wallaby and smiles a greeting. Manalargenna converses with other seated Aborigines in the foreground.

In preparation for this composition Dowling made a number of large oil sketches (held in the National Library of Australia, Canberra) which he worked up from his earlier oil copies after Thomas Bock, and used life models for the figures. The artist made a gift of this painting to the citizens of Launceston in 1860. It has been on public display in Launceston almost continuously since then.