Thomas Balcombe

Mr E Hargraves the gold discoverer of Australia Feb 12th 1851 returning the salute of the gold miners [5th] of the ensuing May 1851

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Professional artist Thomas Balcombe worked in Sydney in the 1840s and 1850s. He painted this portrait of Edward Hargraves, the supposed discoverer of gold in New South Wales, no doubt hoping to capitalise on his celebrity. He advertised it for sale in August 1851, and also sold a version of it as a print.

Balcombe shows Hargraves purportedly dressed in the clothing of a goldminer which even contemporary critics found somewhat fanciful. Hargraves seems to have added his own affectations, including an out-of-place top hat. He is presented as a hero, standing on a rocky outcrop. The skilful depiction of Hargrave’s horse reflects Balcombe’s reputation as a painter of animals.

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