Most of Melbourne’s plaster casts were purchased from government funding for the MPL, especially in the early years of the formation of the art collection (1860-63).

However, Redmond Barry also went to considerable pains during the same period to solicit donations from various individuals. These included a number of wealthy and/or prominent individuals, both in Melbourne and also back in Ireland and England, arranged by Barry during his extended visit to Europe in 1862-3, when he even persuaded several members of his own family to donate!

A detailed list of the early donors was published in the Melbourne Age in April 1863 – abbreviated here as “Donations” (1863) – see reproduction at right (courtesy of Trove). Additional details appear in AR 1870-71.

Further donations occurred during subsequent years, as detailed particularly in NGV 1880 and 1894. A complete list of individual donors of casts appears below, listing the cast/s they gave (for full details, refer separate lists of casts), and providing brief biographical details, where available. For abbreviations and references, refer Bibliography. All websites accessed 3 Oct.2020 (unless noted otherwise).

[photo: Notice in the Melbourne Age, 25 April 1863, concerning donations of art works, mostly casts, to the MPL]


A’Beckett, Sir William (1806-69): I.27 Canephora (2nd copy)

He was Victoria’s first Chief Justice (1852-57), and a supporter of the MPL in its early years, donating a number of books. For details and references, see linked entry on his son (see below)


A’Beckett, W.A.C. (1833-1901): II.1 Sir W.A’Beckett (bust)

The donor was the son of the sitter (see above); see linked entry for further details.


Barry, Phoebe (c.1791-1869): I.26 Canephora and I.100 Terpsichore     

Redmond Barry’s mother, described as “Mrs General Barry,” in the early Melbourne sources. She survived her husband, Major-General Barry (c.1775-1838), by some 30 years; see now (Phoebe [Drought] Barry) and (Henry Green Barry). According to “Donations” (1863), she also donated a “model of the tomb of Scipio” (untraced).


Barry, Caroline (c.1821-1872) or Barry, Charlotte (c.1824-1901): I.95 Pudicitia

The cast listed above is described in 1863 as donated by “Miss Barry,” which could refer to either of Redmond Barry’s two unmarried sisters at the time (Charlotte married John Carrol J.P. in Gloucestershire in 1865): for details, see under the relevant names. Charlotte is also listed in “Donations” (1863) as presenting a “Vase of Flowers” (unidentified).


Barry, General Sir William Wigram (1820-83): I.98 Sophocles

One of Redmond Barry’s several brothers (see, he was presumably the “Colonel Barry” identified in “Donations” (1863) and AR 1870-71 etc. as the donor of the cast listed above. AR 1870-71 and NGV 1894 list his honours as R.A., C.B., indicating that he was both a member of the regular army, and a Companion of the Bath; my thanks to Andrew Hall, a descendant, for his helpful advice (email, 4 Oct.2020).


Bowen, Dr Aubrey (1837-93): I.94 Priestley (statuette)   

Bowen, a noted ophthalmic surgeon, and one of the founders of Melbourne’s Eye and Ear Hospital, trained in Birmingham, which may explain his connection with this cast (given Joseph Priestley’s fame in that city). For Bowen, see e.g.


Bright, Charles Edward (1829-1915): I.111 Venus (Gibson)

Bright arrived in Melbourne in 1854, aged 25, and became a successful businessman; he was a Trustee of the MPL, and married the daughter of Victorian Governor Sir John Manners-Sutton in 1868 (for details, see ADB biography by J.Ann Hone). The Bright Family Papers (donated to the University of Melbourne in 1980) provide detailed information on the family’s history of sugar trading and slave ownership in the Caribbean from the 1730s to the 1850s (see now However, it is unclear whether C.E.Bright had any direct connection with that history; he may have been too young.


Corcoran, William: II.110 Franc Sadleier (bust)

To date, no firm documentation has been found on this donor; there may have been an Irish connection (Sadleier was provost of Trinity College, Dublin).


Downie (Downing?), Henry: II.108 Robinson (bust)

The identity of the donor involved here is uncertain, and nobody named Henry Downie seems to fit. However, Knapman (LaTrobe Journal 86, Dec.2020, n.4), makes the plausible suggestion that this may refer to a friend of Robinson’s, c.1865; this possibility has yet to be investigated throroughly.


Ebden, Charles Hotson (1811-67): I.62 Hercules & Hebe (Flaxman)

Ebden immigrated to Australia from South Africa in 1832, going on to make a fortune as an overlander, squatter, and property owner in New South Wales and Victoria, where he also entered politics (there is a lively ADB biography by Geoffrey Serle). The Hercules and Hebe cast was very large, and probably expensive to purchase and transport to Australia, hence perhaps his involvement in this particular donation. Ebden died at the Melbourne Club, where he and Redmond Barry were both members.


Fletcher, William (1833-94): I.78 Maternal Affection (Baily)

He arrived in Melbourne from Manchester in 1856, and, after assisting his father Richard (d.1861), also a Congregational minister, moved to Adelaide, where he was minister of the Stow Memorial Church (1876-90) and then Vice-chancellor of Adelaide University (1890-94): see ADB article by R.B.Walker.


Foster, John Leslie Fitzgerald (1818-1900): I.56 Giuliano de’Medici

Foster’s portrait appears in the oval portrait series (no.3: SLV H3), in recognition of his brief period as acting Victorian governor in 1854, following terms as Victorian colonial secretary under Latrobe and Hotham (1853-4). According to his ADB biographer, “he was made a scapegoat for Eureka,” returning to England in 1857. 


Greene, Molesworth (1827-1916): I.41 Demosthenes

He was a prominent Victorian pastoralist, an MPL Trustee, and a member of the Melbourne Club (see ADB biography).


Hawdon, Joseph (1813-71): I.19 Bacchus & Ariadne

Early Victorian pioneer who set up the first overland postal service between Melbourne and Sydney (c.1838), and later established the Banyule property near Heidelberg. In 1858, he returned to England, and then spent the last part of his life in New Zealand (1863-71): see ADB biography by Alan Gross.


Howey, Captain John Werge (1799-1871): I.6 Amazon

He lived mainly in England after c.1842, after purchasing a substantial set of properties in central Melbourne which passed to his family after his death; the name is preserved in Howey Place (for details and references, see e.g. Mary Lewis in LaTrobe Journal, 76, Spring 2005, pp.77-78).


James, George (1813-77): I.13 Ariadne 

James was in Tasmania by 1838 and moved to Port Phillip soon afterwards; after making a fortune as a merchant and land speculator, he returned to England with his family in 1853, and built a substantial house in Southampton, where he died (for details, see


Jeffreys, Edward William (1817-99): I.105 Venus Anadyomene

A grazier in Victoria between 1840 and 1870, he also produced several wash drawings of his family properties (donated to the SLV in 1938: see now J.Randall in LaTrobe Journal vol.31, April 1983, pp.49-56). Of his two male children, the elder, Edward (b.1857) was presumably the “Master Jeffreys” listed as donating the cast of Augustus: see next entry. “Donations” (1863) also notes a “cast of bust” (unidentified) as donated by “Miss Jeffreys,” presumably Jeffreys’ daughter Elizabeth (b.1854). For the family history details, see e.g.


Jeffreys, Edward (Junior) (b.1857): II.8 Augustus Caesar (bust)

The elder son of E.W.Jeffreys (see previous entry), he was presumably the “Master Jeffreys” named as the donor of this bust in 1863. He was born in England.


Kaye, William Williams: I.93 Polyhymnia

Identified in “Donations” (1863) and AR 1870-71 as the donor of the cast listed below, this donor has proved hard to identify.


Labilliere, Charles Edgar (1801-70): I.42 Diana (Benzoni)

Another early Port Phillip colonist, he ran sheep near Bacchus Marsh before returning to England with his family in 1859. His son Francis Labilliere (1840-95), well-known for his Early History of the Colony of Victoria (1878) was a staunch Imperialist who lived in England.


Macarthur, Major-General Sir Edward (1789-1872): I.84 Minerva

The son of Elizabeth and John Macarthur, he grew up in Sydney, served under Wellington in the Napoleonic wars, and then represented Australian interests in England, returning to Australia as a military officer in 1851. He was acting administrator of Victoria (1856) and commander of Australian military forces (1856-60), before returning once again to England, where he died. For further details, see ADB biography (by A.J.Hill); his Oval Portrait (no.8) (SLV H5) was based on an equestrian portrait by William Strutt. 


Mackinnon, Lauchlan (1817-88): I.18 Bacchus & Ampelus

After migrating to Australia from Scotland in 1838, he spent time as an “overlander,” pastoralist and politician in Port Phillip, and then joined Edward Wilson – for whom, see Woolner Edward Wilson {1868} SLV [SC] – as a proprietor of the Argus in 1852. In 1868, Mackinnon retired to England. There is an ADB biography by Jacqueline Templeton.


Malcolm, James {d.1878}: I.32 Cyparissus (Chaudet)

Born in Scotland, Malcolm was a wealthy squatter in the Craigieburn area between the 1830s and the 1850s: see (Craigieburn local history website, accessed 26 Sept.2020).


Martin, Sir James (1820-86): II.100 Parkes (bust)

Martin grew up in Sydney, where his parents immigrated in 1821, he made his name as a journalist, lawyer and politician. He was New South Wales Premier several times, including a 2-year period (1866-68) when he led a coalition government with Parkes (whom he had known since the 1830s). From 1873 onwards, he was chief Justice of NSW. This bust appears to have been donated in 1869.


Mitchell, William (1834-1915): I.112 Venus (Thorvaldsen)

Mitchell was a successful Melbourne businessman and magistrate (see ADB biography); he is recorded as donating Thorvaldsen’s Venus in 1863, together with two men whose identity is uncertain: see Richardson, and Thomson (Thompson?), below.


Moor, Henry (1809-77): I.47 Dorothea (Bell)

Moor was a lawyer and prominent lay Anglican in Port Phillip; both he and his wife Mary (d.1870) are recorded as donating casts in 1863; for details, see ADB biography by Frank Strahan.


Moor, Mary (d.1870): I.86 Musidora (Legrew)

She and her husband Henry both donated casts in 1863 (see previous entry).


Murphy, James (1821-88): I.34 Dancing Faun [Naples]; I.36 Dancing Faun [Uffizi]; I.37 Dancing Girl, with wreath; I.45 Discobolus, standing; I.46 Discobolus, throwing; I.58 Gladiator, fighting; I.102 Tiger [Lioness?] (Barye); I.103 Torso; II.5 Apollo Belvedere (bust); II.29 Clytie; II.39 Diana robing (bust); II.41. Diomedes; II.86 Moses (bust); II.87 Moses (mask); II.125 Venus de Milo (bust); see also Casts – III.Miscellaneous (i)

The casts acquired “for the School of Design” with the £50 Murphy donated in 1862 are recorded in considerable detail in AR 1870-71, pp.28-29: Schedule XXIX (and p.69, for the gift); and he is identified in the 1865 NGV catalogue (vol.III, p.21) as “formerly a resident in Melbourne.” It seems possible that he may be the James Murphy recorded as a member of the Victorian Legislative Council from 1853 to 1855; his dates are given as 1821-88, and he is said to have arrived in Melbourne from Ireland in about 1839, later working as a brewer and publican (see now (accessed 22 Oct.2020)


Purves, James (1814-78): I.99 Tambourine Girl (Dantan)

See linked entry (also listing marble statues donated by his family after his death)


Richardson, J.: I.112 Venus (Thorvaldsen)

Recorded as donating this cast with William Mitchell (see above) and J. or R. Thomson (Thompson?) in 1863; details for both Richardson and Thomson/Thompson have yet to be established.


Scurry, James (1826-94): II.71 Laocoon (bust)

See linked artist entry, also listing various other works also donated by Scurry in 1884.


Smith, Henry Arthur: I.73 Innocence (Foley) 

This donor has yet to be identified.


Thomson (Thompson?), J.or R.: I.112 Venus (Thorvaldsen)

This individual, recorded as donating this cast with William Mitchell and J.Richardson (see above) in 1863, has proved difficult to identify. He is called “John Thomson, Esq.” in “Donations” (1863), but “R.Thompson, Esq.” in AR 1870-71 and NGV 1894.


Valiant, Major-General: I.60 Greek Slave (Powers)

Dates and details for this donor have yet to be clarified, although it would seem that his daughter Louisa married the early Victorian settler Thomas Learmonth (1818-1903) in 1856 (see ADB biography of the Learmonth family by P.Brown).


Weathy, Edmund: I.87 Narcissus (Theed)

The donor of this cast is identified in AR 1870-71 and NGV 1894, apparently incorrectly, as “Mrs Westby” (initial searches for such a person have not proved successful). However in “Donations” (1863) the donor is named as Edmund Weathy, who is recorded as a property owner in Williamstown in an electoral roll published in 1850 (see Further research may prove productive.


Williams, Mrs: I.80 Mercury (Giambologna)

Once again, the donor, listed as shown in “Donations” (1863) and AR 1870-71 etc., is yet to be identified.


Wood, Marshall (1835-82): I.68 Holy Family (Taddei Tondo by Michelangelo, c.2); I.71 The Hours… (Gibson, c.2); I.83 Mercury & Pandora (Flaxman, c.2); I.103 Torso (life size, c.2); II.46 Female head; and II.80 Male head

These casts, all recorded in NGV 1894 (and several also in NGV 1880), were evidently donated by Wood while he was working in Melbourne from 1877-82: see linked entry for further details.