Works included in this catalogue
O’Brien Grand-view Park, Pascoe Vale {1868} SLV [DR]
O’Brien Melbourne in 1839 {1868} SLV [DR]
O’Brien Melbourne… 1840 {1868} SLV [WT]
O’Brien Melbourne seen from the Hospital {1868} SLV [DR]
* O’Brien (?) Melbourne from the corner of Collins and Swanston Streets {1868} Loc? [DR]
O’Brien Corner of Collins and Swanston Street 1853 {1904} NGV [WT]
* O’Brien [attrib.] Residence of Captain Lonsdale, Melbourne {1868} Loc? [WT]
O’Brien View from the Junction of Barkley and Princes Streets 1862 {1886} SLV [WT]
* O’Brien View from Retreat Villa, St Kilda 1862 {1886} Loc? [WT]
* O’Brien View at Mr Campbell’s {1868} Loc? [DR]
O’Brien View on the Banks of the Yarra {1868} SLV [DR]

O’Brien came from distinguished stock in County Clare, but his parents apparently died young. He is first certainly documented in Melbourne from 1850-c.1858.

Downer and Phipps suggest that his sketches of Melbourne around 1840 “are unlikely to be contemporary,” hence presumably reconstructions made in the 1850s for John Pascoe Fawkner, who later donated several to the Melbourne collection (see list above). Another example, O’Brien Corner of Collins and Swanston Street 1853 {1904} NGV [WT], came from Alfred Felton’s collection.

After 1863, O’Brien was active in Dunedin, working as a topographical painter; he died in Auckland.


For O’Brien’s biography (which is unclear in places), see e.g. Kerr Dictionary (1992), pp.591-92 (entry by R.Collins & N.Roberts), citing Downer & Phipps Victorian Vision (1985), esp.p.9 (quoted) and cat.nos.163-4. See also; (by R.D.Collins; first published in Art New Zealand3, Dec./Jan.1976/77);’Brien_%28painter%29 (with further references); and AKL 93 (2017), pp.152-53