State Library of NSW
Once attributed to the 1840s travel artist, George French Angas, this oil by an unknown artist seems to depict Five Islands and an Illawarra landscape in the 1840s or 1850s.
In the foreground is a group of Aborigines in a mia-mia, a temporary shelter made of bark, branches, leaves and grass. While representation of these people is not observed in perceptive detail, the presence of this group gives the viewer a firm indicator that the painting is an Australian scene. Aboriginal people are often included in the foreground of colonial artworks as a kind of picturesque motif which helps identify the locality of the image. However these vignettes can be seen, too, as evidence of ongoing Indigenous presence in Australia at a time when Aboriginal people were being pushed back by European expansion.
The view appears to be from Mount Keira looking south towards Wollongong and Port Kembla, and indeed aspects of it do accord with that area, but as it is difficult to pin down this is more likely a combination of geographic features of the region.
Out of copyright: Artist died before 1955
Please acknowledge: Dixson Library, State Library of New South Wales