[photo: William Bligh (no.9)]

This series of portraits of colonial governors was initiated by Redmond Barry and the Melbourne Public Library Trustees in 1866. Most of them appear to have been produced during the 1860s and 1870s, although new examples were still being added in the 1880s. In the gallery’s annual reports, they are usually described as “painted photographic portraits,” reflecting the fact that in almost every case an existing portrait was reproduced photographically and then hand-coloured.

Most of the portraits were produced by three photographers/ amateur painters active in Melbourne in the period (see linked artist entries for further details):

John Botterill (1817-81)

Thomas Foster Chuck (c.1826-98)

Johnstone, O’Shannessy & Co. (active in Melbourne 1860s-1905)

Christine Downer (in Galbally First Collections, 1992, p.76) suggests that the painted photographic portrait – on the face of it, a curious and oddly amateurish hybrid – seemed to bridge a perceived gap between photography and high art, not least in terms of cost.

Elsewhere (in Bonyhady & Sayers’ 2000 catalogue Heads of the People, p.63)Downer notes that the oval portraits had their origins in Batchelder & Co., & others: Fasti Victorienses {c.1865} SLV [PH], a collection of cartes-de-visites and the like, assembled a few years earlier by Barry, forming “a record of the old boys’ network which had ruled Victoria since its separation from New South Wales in 1851.”

Likewise, all those represented in the present series of portraits, aggrandized by their oval gilt frames, were white, male, and British, and many, especially in the opening decades of Australia’s colonial history, had a naval or military background.

The initial location of the Oval Portrait series in the library building is unclear. In the 1894 NGV catalogue, most of them were listed as in the first bay of the recently-completed Buvelot Gallery, with the sitters simply identified by name. NGV 1905 catalogued them in the same space, in an expanded sequence, adding biographical details for the sitters, but still without indicating other details such as artist’s names.

In both NGV 1894 and 1905, the sequence of portraits began with that of La Trobe, Victoria’s first governor, but thereafter the order varied somewhat (neither following a strict chronological sequence – in fact in both cases it seems somewhat random, perhaps dictated by arcane diplomatic protocol).

As mentioned, almost all of them are coloured photographs (exceptions are indicated); further biographical details on most of the individuals represented appear in the Australian Dictionary of Biography (ADB); and, for works extant in the SLV, see the library’s online catalogue for further details and reproductions. The library notes that the oval frames, designed by Redmond Barry, were probably of American manufacture.

The portraits are listed below in the sequence recorded in NGV 1905, adding artist and current location, where known (the great majority, some 50 in all, are still held in the SLV), with additional comments as appropriate.

  1. Charles Joseph La Trobe (1801-75), Superintendent of Port Philip, 1839-51, and Victoria’s first Governor, 1851-54. SLV (H2), by Botterill 1866, after an oil portrait by Francis Grant (Melbourne Town Hall, 1855). NGV 1894, V.i.1; NGV 1905, V.i.1. Another version by Grant of his oil portrait of La Trobe is in the SLV (H30870; donated in 1954)
  2. George Augustus Phipps, Marquis of Normandy (1819-90), Governor of Victoria, 1878-84. SLV (H11), by Chuck (c.1876?). NGV 1894, V.i.11; NGV 1905, V.i.2
  3. John Foster (1818-1900), Acting Governor of Victoria, May-June 1854. SLV (H3), by Botterill 1866. NGV 1894, V.i.2; NGV 1905, V.i.3
  4. Captain John Hunter (1738-1821), Governor of New South Wales, 1795-1801. SLV (H5301), by Botterill 1866, based on an engraving by Daniel Orme after Robert Dighton. NGV 1894, V.i.4; NGV 1905, V.i.4. For Hunter, see also linked artist entry, listing pre-Felton examples by or after him
  5. Captain Sir Charles Hotham (1806-55), Lt-Governor and then Governor of Victoria, 1853-55. SLV (H4), by Botterill 1866. NGV 1894, V.i.3; NGV 1905, V.i.5
  6. Captain Philip Gidley King (1758-1808). After serving under Arthur Phillip on the First Fleet, King was Lt-Governor of Norfolk Island (1788-96), and then succeeded Hunter as NSW Governor (1800-1806). SLV (H5409), by Botterill 1868, based on an engraving by William Skelton after Joseph Wright of Derby (for a reproduction, see http://www.portrait.gov.au/people/philip-gidley-king-1758). NGV 1894, V.i.17; NGV 1905, V.i.6.
  7. The Earl of Hopetoun, Marquis of Linlithgow (1860-1908), Governor of Victoria, 1889-95, and first Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, 1901-1902. Artist and location unknown. NGV 1905, V.i.7 (not listed in NGV 1894)
  8. Lt-General Sir Edward Macarthur (1780-1872), Administrator of Victoria in 1856. SLV (H5), by Botterill 1866, after the equestrian portrait by Strutt (Victorian Parliamentary Library, 1857). NGV 1894, V.i.4; NGV 1905, V.i.8
  9. Admiral William Bligh (1754-1817), Governor of New South Wales, 1805-10. SLV (H5295), produced in 1880 by Johnstone, O’Shannessy & Co. AR 1880, p.73; NGV 1894, V.i.18; NGV 1905, V.i.9. Probably the best known of Australia’s colonial governors, Bligh is (in)famous both for the mutiny on his ship HMS Bounty (1789), and for the coup which unseated him as New South Wales governor in 1808 (after less than two years in office), in the so-called “Rum Rebellion.” He was succeeded as governor first by George Johnston (see no.12), later court-martialed for his role in the rebellion, and then, officially, by Lachlan Macquarie (no.14). This portrait – reproduced above – is based on an engraving by Jean Condé (1765-94), published as the frontispiece of Bligh’s Voyage to the South Sea (London, 1792), after an oil portrait by John Russell (1791). Bligh’s book included his own account of the mutiny on the Bounty, and the remarkable voyage of almost 6,000 km that he and 18 others made subsequently, in an open boat, from near Tahiti to Timor. For a reproduction of Russell’s portrait of Bligh, and other images of him, together with an entertaining commentary by Joanna Gilmour (Sept.2008), see http://www.portrait.gov.au/magazines/29/high-bligh. For Condé’s engraving, see e.g. http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait.php?LinkID=mp00451&rNo=2&role=sit (impression held in the National Portrait Gallery, London).
  10. Sir Henry Brougham Loch (1827-1900), Governor of Victoria, 1884-89. Artist and location unknown. NGV 1894, v.i.12 or 13; NGV 1905, V.i.10. NGV 1894 lists two portraits of Loch, and also a companion portrait of Lady Loch (V.i.14), but none of these appears to be extant. However, for another portrait of Loch in the pre-Felton collection, see Dowling Sir Henry Brougham Loch 1886 {1890} SLV [PA]
  11. Sir Henry Barkly (1815-98), 3rd Governor of Victoria, 1856-63. SLV (H6), by Botterill 1866. NGV 1894, V.i.5; NGV 1905, V.i.11; also Galbally First Collections (1992), cat.55. For Barkly, with details of other pre-Felton portraits, see linked entry, also including a reproduction of Botterill’s Oval Portrait
  12. Colonel George Johnston (1764-1823), Acting Lt-Governor of New South Wales, Jan.-Dec.1809. SLV (H5298), by Chuck 1874. Johnston assumed the role of acting governor while Bligh (see no.9) was under investigation; he was replaced in 1810 by Macquarie (no.14). This portrait is based on an 1810 watercolour by Robert Dighton (Mitchell Library, Sydney) probably via Jackson Colonel Johnston 1873 {1873} SLV [WT] (a copy of Dighton’s work, commissioned by the Trustees of the Melbourne Public Library). AR 1874, p.36; NGV 1894, V.i.19; NGV 1905, V.i.12
  13. Sir Charles Darling (1809-70), Victorian Governor, 1863-68. SLV (H5296), by Botterill c.1866. NGV 1894, V.i.6; NGV 1905, V.i.13. For another portrait of Darling in the pre-Felton collection, see Unknown (Burtt?) Sir Charles Darling {1890} SLV [PA]
  14. Major-General Lachlan Macquarie (1762-1824), Governor of New South Wales, 1810-21. SLV (H5408), by Chuck 1874. AR 1874, p.36; NGV 1894, V.i.20; NGV 1905, V.i.14. This portrait derives from an oil portrait, previously thought to be of Macquarie, in the Windsor courthouse, NSW. See also Jackson Lachlan Macquarie 1874 {1874} SLV [WT] (based on the same original), presumably the direct source for the present work
  15. Sir William Cleaver Robinson (1834-97), Governor of Western Australia, 1874-77, 1880-83 and 1892; Governor of South Australia, 1883-89; and Acting Governor of Victoria, 1889. Artist and location unknown. NGV 1894, V.i.15; NGV 1905, V.i.15
  16. Brigadier-General George Jackson Carey (1828-72), Acting Governor of Victoria in 1866. SLV (H8), by Botterill 1866. NGV 1894, V.i.7; NGV 1905, V.i.16
  17. Major-General Sir Thomas Brisbane (1773-1860), Governor of New South Wales, 1821-25. SLV (H5407), by Johnstone, O’Shannessy & Co. 1866, after a portrait by Augustus Earle (Government House, Sydney, 1825-26). The sitter established a new settlement for convicts deemed unimprovable, at Moreton Bay (subsequently named Brisbane, after him). NGV 1894, V.i.21; NGV 1905, V.i.17; see also Roger Butler, “Sir Thomas Brisbane, Augustus Earle and Australia’s first lithographs,” The Australian Connoisseur and Collector, no.3, 1982, pp.94-99 and 130-31, available online
  18. John Manners-Sutton, Third Viscount Canterbury (1814-77), Governor of Victoria, 1866-73. SLV (H9), by Botterill 1872? NGV 1894, V.i.8; NGV 1905, V.i.18. See also Summers (Charles) Sir John Manners-Sutton 1876 {1877} SLV [SC]
  19. Colonel William Stewart (1769-1854), Acting Governor of New South Wales in Dec.1825. SLV (H5294), by Chuck 1874, after an anonymous portrait now in the State Library of NSW. Stewart acted briefly as NSW governor after the departure of Brisbane (see no.17). AR 1875, p.39; NGV 1894, V.i.22; NGV 1905, V.i.19
  20. Sir William Foster Stawell (1815-89), Acting Governor of Victoria in 1873, 1875-76 and 1884. SLV (H10), by Chuck 1876. NGV 1894, V.i.9; NGV 1905, V.i.20
  21. General Sir Ralph Darling (1775-1858), Governor of New South Wales, 1824-31. SLV (H5296), by Johnstone, O’Shannessy & Co. 1870, after an anonymous portrait in Government House, Sydney (formerly attributed to Augustus Earle). NGV 1894, V.i.23; NGV 1905, V.i.21
  22. Sir Dominick Daly (1798-1868), Governor of South Australia, 1862-68. SLV (H1519), by Botterill 1869. NGV 1894, V.i.50 or 51; NGV 1905, V.i.22. Botterill’s was one of two portraits of Daly listed in NGV 1894, the other being Hood Sir Dominick Daly 1878 {1878} SLV [WT], also in an oval frame, and dated 1878, but showing Daly as a considerably younger man, possibly during his earlier career in Canada, 1841-48 (SLV H 1520). It is unclear why two separate oval portraits of Daly were produced, and also uncertain which of the two was listed in NGV 1905
  23. Sir Richard Bourke (c.1826-98), Governor of New South Wales, 1831-37. SLV (H5410), by Chuck 1874, after a portrait by Andrew Moreton (Government House, Sydney, c.1841) or Jackson Sir Richard Bourke 1874 {1874} SLV [WT] (a copy of Moreton’s work). Bourke supported the end of transportation and the emancipation of convicts; officially proclaimed Australia terra nullius (1835); and, in 1837, presided over the founding of Melbourne, whose Bourke Street is named after him. AR 1874, p.36; NGV 1894, V.i.24; NGV 1905, V.i.23; see also http://www.migrationheritage.nsw.gov.au/exhibition/objectsthroughtime/bourketerra/ (for his official proclamation of Australia as terra nullius, preserved in the National Archives of the UK)
  24. Colonel Kenneth Snodgrass (1784-1853), Acting Lt-Governor of Tasmania, 1836-37. SLV (H5293), produced by Batchelder’s (photographers) 1870 (after an earlier engraving). NGV 1894, V.i.25; NGV 1905, V.i.24
  25. Major-General Frederick Holt Robe (1802-71), Governor of South Australia, 1845-48. SLV (H1523), by Chuck 1876, after a photograph by J.J.Mayall (1813-1901). NGV 1894, V.i.46; NGV 1905, V.i.25
  26. Sir George Gipps (1791-1847), New South Wales Governor, 1838-46. SLV (H1536), by Johnstone, O’Shannessy & Co. 1870, after a portrait by Eddis (Government House, Sydney, 1836). NGV 1894, V.i.26; NGV 1905, V.i.26
  27. Sir Henry Young (1810-70), Governor of South Australia, 1848-55, and Governor of Tasmania, 1855-61. SLV (H1544), by Chuck 1876. NGV 1894, V.i.47; NGV 1905, V.i.27
  28. Sir Charles Fitzroy (1796-1858), Governor of New South Wales, 1846-61. SLV (H5297), by Johnstone, O’Shannessy & Co. 1866, based on Richard Buckner’s oil portrait of 1855 (Government House, Sydney); see also Bellin after Buckner: Sir Charles Fitzroy {1872} SLV [PR], an engraving based on the same painting. NGV 1894, V.i.27 or 28; NGV 1905, V.i.28
  29. Boyle Travers Finniss (1807-93), Acting Governor of South Australia, 1854-55. SLV (H1516), by Chuck 1876. NGV 1894, V.i.48; NGV 1905, V.i.29
  30. Lt-General Sir William Thomas Denison (1804-71), Governor of Tasmania, 1846-55, and of New South Wales, 1855-61. SLV (H1527), by Botterill 1866. NB NGV 1894 and NGV 1905 both list two separate portraits of Denison; one was presumably Botterill’s 1866 portrait and the other the 1863 engraving by Chant: see no.32 below. NGV 1894, V.i.29 or 58; NGV 1905, V.i.30 or 32
  31. Sir Richard Graves Macdonnell (1814-81), Governor of South Australia, 1855-62. SLV (H1535), probably by Chuck 1869. NGV 1894, V.i.49; NGV 1905, V.i.31
  32. Lt-General Sir William Thomas Denison (1804-71). This second portrait of Denison (cf.no.30 above) was presumably the print of him catalogued separately here as Chant after Buckner (?) Sir William Thomas Denison 1863 {by 1894} SLV [PR]. NGV 1894, V.i.29 or 58; NGV 1905, V.i.30 or 32
  33. Major-General Sir Trevor Chute (1816-86), Acting Governor of New South Wales, Dec.1867-Jan.1868. SLV (H1530), by Botterill c.1869. NGV 1894, V.i.31; NGV 1905, V.i.33
  34. Sir John Young (1807-76), Governor of New South Wales, 1861-67. SLV (H1517), by Botterill 1866. NGV 1894, V.i.30; NGV 1905, V.i.34. There was also a plaster bust of Young in the pre-Felton collection: see NGV 1894, VII.Cast Gallery, no.31
  35. Sir Somerset Lowry-Corry, 4th Earl of Belmore (1835-1913), New South Wales Governor, 1868-72. SLV (H1541), by Botterill by 1869. NGV 1894, V.i.32; NGV 1905, V.i.35
  36. Right Hon.Sir James Fergusson (1832-1907), Governor of South Australia, 1869-73. SLV (H1521), by Chuck 1872. NGV 1894, V.i.52; NGV 1905, V.i.36
  37. Right Hon.Charles Carrington, Baron Carrington (1843-1928), Governor of New South Wales, 1885-90. Artist and location unknown. NGV 1894, V.i.35; NGV 1905, V.i.37. NGV 1894 also lists a portrait of Lady Carrington (V.i.36), but this is not included in NGV 1905 and does not seem to be extant. See also May (P.) Lord Carrington and New South Wales {1903} SLV [DR]
  38. Sir Alfred Stephen (1801-94), Acting Governor of New South Wales in 1872. SLV (H1539), by Chuck 1874. NGV 1894, V.i.33; NGV 1905, V.i.38
  39. Sir Richard Davies Hanson (1805-76), Administrator of South Australia, 1872-73 (according to NGV 1905). SLV (H1515), by Chuck 1876. NGV 1894, V.i.53; NGV 1905, V.i.39
  40. Right Hon.Sir Hercules Robinson (1824-97), New South Wales Governor, 1872-79, and Governor of New Zealand, 1879-80. SLV (H1538), by Chuck 1874. NGV 1894, V.i.34; NGV 1905, V.i.40. See also Freeman Brothers & Prout Sir Hercules Robinson 1873 {1874} SLV [PH]
  41. Sir Anthony Musgrave (1828-88), Governor of South Australia, 1873-77, and Governor of Queensland, 1883-88. SLV (H1524), by Chuck 1876. NGV 1894, V.i.54; NGV 1905, V.i.41
  42. Lt-General Sir William Jervois (1821-97), Governor of South Australia, 1877-83, and Governor of New Zealand, 1883-89. Artist and location unknown. NGV 1894, V.i.55; NGV 1905, V.i.42
  43. Right Hon.Sir George Ferguson Bowen (1821-99), by turns  Queensland’s first governor, 1859-68; Governor of New Zealand, 1868-73; and Governor of Victoria, 1873-79. SLV (H12), by Botterill, in or before 1869. NGV 1894, V.i.37; NGV 1905, V.i.43
  44. Sir John Franklin (1786-1847), Governor of Tasmania, 1837-43. SLV (H1525); for artist details, see below. Unusually for this series, the gilt frame adorns an original print, an impression of Maguire’s lithograph of c.1837 after Negelen’s painting of Franklin. Another impression, no longer extant, was donated to the pre-Felton collection in 1875: see now * Maguire after Negelen Sir John Franklin {1875} Loc? [PR], noting yet another impression (London, National Portrait Gallery), and providing information on Franklin’s career as a celebrated Arctic explorer. NGV 1894, V.i.57; NGV 1905, V.i.44
  45. Major-General Sir Peter Scratchley (1835-85), Administrator of British New Guinea, 1885 (according to NGV 1905). Artist and location unknown. NGV 1894, V.i.65; NGV 1905, V.i.45
  46. Sir Maurice O’Connell (1812-79), “Acting Governor of Queensland at various times from 1868-1877” (according to NGV 1905), and Acting Governor of New South Wales in July-August 1846. SLV (H1529), by Johnstone, O’Shannessy & Co. 1880. NGV 1894, V.i.38; NGV 1905, V.i.46
  47. Sir Thomas Gore Browne (1807-87), Governor of New Zealand, 1854-61; and Governor of Tasmania, 1861-68. SLV (H1533), by  Botterill 1866. NGV 1894, V.i.59; NGV 1905, V.i.47
  48. Colonel Sir Andrew Clarke (1793-1847), Governor of Western Australia, 1845-47. SLV (H1534), by Chuck 1879. NGV 1894, V.i.40; NGV 1905, V.i.48
  49. Sir Charles Du Cane (1825-89), Governor of Tasmania, 1869-74. SLV (H1526), by Chuck 1874. NGV 1894, V.i.60; NGV 1905, V.i.49
  50. Sir William Lambert Dobson (1833-98), Administrator of Tasmania in 1886-87, according to NGV 1905. Artist and location unknown. NGV 1894, V.i.61; NGV 1905, V.i.50
  51. Sir Frederick Aloysius Weld (1823-91), Governor of Western Australia, 1869-74, and Governor of Tasmania, 1874-80. SLV (H1540), by Chuck 1873. NGV 1894, V.i.41; NGV 1905, V.i.51
  52. Sir George Grey (1812-98), Governor of South Australia, 1841-45, and Governor of New Zealand in 1845-53 and 1861-68. For some reason there are two separate oval portraits, both extant in the SLV: (i) H1542, by Botterill 1869; and (ii) H1522, by Chuck 1876. However only one portrait (which one is unclear) was listed in NGV 1894 (V.i.62) and NGV 1905 (V.i.52)
  53. His Honour Mr.Justice Boucaut (1831-1916), Administrator of South Australia, 1885, 1886 and 1891 (according to NGV 1905). Artist and location unknown. NGV 1894, V.i.56; NGV 1905, V.i.53
  54. Rear-Admiral Sir John Hindmarsh (1786-1859), first Governor of South Australia, 1836-38. SLV (H1528), by Chuck 1866. NGV 1894, V.i.42; NGV 1905, V.i.54
  55. Sir George Alfred Arney (1806-83), Administrator of New Zealand, 1873, according to NGV 1905. SLV(H5299). By Chuck 1875. NGV 1894, V.i.63; NGV 1905, V.i.55
  56. George Milner Stephen (1812-94), Acting Governor of South Australia, 1838. SLV (H5300), by Chuck 1876. NGV 1894, V.i.43; NGV 1905, V.i.56
  57. Major-General Francis Gilbert Hamley (1820-76), Administrator of South Australia, 1868-69. SLV (H1531), by Botterill, by 1869. NGV 1894, V.i.66; NGV 1905, V.i.57
  58. Colonel George Gawler (1795-1869), Governor of South Australia, 1838-41. SLV (H1532), by Chuck 1866. NGV 1894, V.i.44; NGV 1905, V.i.58