Goat Island, New South Wales c. 1840sBy Remembering the Past Australia / May 2, 2022 / Australia / 0 Comments
Goat Island, New South Wales, Australia
This engraving, by John Saddler, was made from a mirror image of John Skinner Prout’s drawing of Goat Island in Sydney Harbour, in the 1840s.
Goat Island, known as Me-mel by the local Cadigal people, was once the place where both Bennelong and Barangaroo lived. After the arrival of the First Fleet from Britain in 1788, the island was used as a home for convict work gangs and as a gunpowder storage depot. In 1789 Governor Phillip created a “Row Boat Guard” to patrol Sydney harbour for smugglers and convicts attempting to escape. The Row Boat Guard was also used to pass letters to ships anchored in the harbour. The Queen’s Magazine, which stands on Goat Island, was built by convicts in the 1830s using sandstone quarried from the eastern side of the island. It was used to store explosives, and beside it there’s a barracks, cooperage and kitchen. By 1830 Goat Island was the site of the first water police station as well as the harbour fire brigade.
“Australia” vol. I, 1873; Edwin Carton Booth F.R.C.I. with drawings by (John) Skinner Prout, N. (Nicholas) Chevalier, &c. &c.
About the Artist:
John Skinner Prout was born on 19 December 1805, in Plymouth England, the eldest child of John Prout and Maria Skinner. His father was the elder brother of the leading English watercolour painter Samuel Prout (1783-1852). In 1828 he married Maria Heathilla Marsh, also an accomplished painter and musician (harpist). They had eight children, four daughters and four sons.
In 1840 John Skinner Prout emigrated to Sydney, accompanied by his wife and eight children, arriving on 14 December 1840. He brought with him a complete lithographic printing press, and in early 1841 he started producing lithographed versions of his drawings of Sydney. For the next 3 years, he followed the route of many artists of the period, journeying west across the Blue Mountains towards Bathurst, south to Broulee and the Illawarra district, and north to Newcastle and Port Stephens. Returning from these travels, Prout would work up his sketches into finished works in lithographs, watercolour and oil paint for sale.
In January/February 1844 Prout moved to Hobart and began drawing a new lithographic series, Tasmania Illustrated. Here Prout was more successful, drawing the patronage of the Governor Sir John Franklin and his wife.
In June 1848 Prout and his family returned to England. Upon his return, at the Western Literary and Scientific Institution, Leicester Square, he exhibited his work on life in the Australian colonies and lectured on convicts, bushrangers and Aboriginals. He lived in London for the rest of his life.
From the collection of:
The British Library