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The Wallis album

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Previously unknown, the discovery and acquisition of a fascinating album compiled by Captain James Wallis reveals the artistic contributions and working relationship of two key players in late Macquarie era New South Wales: James Wallis (1785? - 1858) and Joseph Lycett (ca. 1775 - 1828)

Captain James Wallis, commandant of the secondary penal settlement at Newcastle from 1816 to 1818, built many of Newcastle’s early landmark buildings, and developed an association with convict artist, Joseph Lycett.

Originally transported for forgery, Lycett was sent to Newcastle in 1815 after re-offending in Sydney. Together, Wallis and Lycett were two principal documenters and promoters of the colony during the late Macquarie years. Their association has, for many years, been one of early Australian colonial art's great attribution puzzles.

In New South Wales in 1819, Wallis published a set of engraved views showcasing New South Wales to the world. This book of illustrations was republished in London by Ackermann in 1821. A major achievement, the views were about the success of British enterprise in NSW, and not unnaturally focused on the achievements of Wallis. In both publications, Wallis firmly asserted his authorship via a legend beneath the images: 'from an Original Drawing by Capt Wallis'. Until the discovery of this album, the original drawings on which the engravings are based were thought to have been lost. Consquently, the artist of the drawings has always been contentious, as Lycett has a similar artistic style. 

Included in the Library's Wallis album, however, are original drawings for five of these published views each bearing the inscription: 'Drawn by a Convict'. This clearly establishes Lycett, rather than Wallis, as the artist of the original drawings.

Wallis and Lycett's association extended to other artistic enterprises, notably the Macquarie collector's chests, two of the most beautiful pieces of early 19th century Australiana. Both are held in the collections of the State Library of New South Wales.

The Wallis album includes a watercolour drawing, titled 'The Fish of New South Wales', with exactly those varieties of fish depicted in panels for the chests, painted by Lycett.

Four previously unknown drawings by Wallis of Awabakal people from the Newcastle district, as well as portraits of Aboriginal brothers Dick and Burigon  are preserved in the album. Until the emergence of this album the only known drawings by Wallis were predominantly English and Irish views, made later in his life, and acquired by the library in 2006. Only one other Australian drawing by Wallis, a view of the Hawkesbury, is known to exist, and is held in a private collection. 

Each of the four drawings attributed to Wallis show groups of Awabakal Aboriginal men and women and scenes from the Newcastle area, including Nobby's beach. The naively drawn Aboriginal figures have all been cut-out and pasted into a background landscape view. Another page includes portrait drawings of Aboriginal brothers Dick and Burigon, inscribed '2 Natives of New South Wales', men whom Wallis knew personally. He wrote about them in a reminiscence of his days in Newcastle in a manuscript (PXD 1008) now also held by the Library. 

Discovered in Ontario, Canada as part of a deceased estate, the Wallis album was purchased at auction by the State Library of New South Wales in October 2011.

View a selection of pages from the Wallis album

About this item: 

A grangerised volume of James Wallis' ‘An Historical account of the colony of New South Wales...'. London : Printed For R. Ackermann, Repository Of Arts, Strand, by J. Moyes, Greville Street, 1821. It includes original drawings, watercolours, and collages by James Wallis and Joseph Lycett including views, portraits of Aboriginal people, botanical, and natural history illustrations.

Front cover - A pair of kangaroos; pair of black swans; and platypus, 1820-1821 View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a5491001
About this item: 

A grangerised volume of James Wallis' ‘An Historical account of the colony of New South Wales...'. London : Printed For R. Ackermann, Repository Of Arts, Strand, by J. Moyes, Greville Street, 1821. It includes original drawings, watercolours, and collages by James Wallis and Joseph Lycett including views, portraits of Aboriginal people, botanical, and natural history illustrations.

[Top] View of twin waterfalls and wooded landscape] 25th July 1818, and [bottom] West Prospect from View Hill, Interior N. Holland, August 27th 1818 View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a5491002
About this item: 

A grangerised volume of James Wallis' ‘An Historical account of the colony of New South Wales...'. London : Printed For R. Ackermann, Repository Of Arts, Strand, by J. Moyes, Greville Street, 1821. It includes original drawings, watercolours, and collages by James Wallis and Joseph Lycett including views, portraits of Aboriginal people, botanical, and natural history illustrations.

[Top] East View of Arbuthnots Range, Interior N. Holland, July 16th 1818 and [bottom] South West Prospect from View Hill, interior New South Wales, August 28th 1818 View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a5491003
About this item: 

A grangerised volume of James Wallis' ‘An Historical account of the colony of New South Wales...'. London : Printed For R. Ackermann, Repository Of Arts, Strand, by J. Moyes, Greville Street, 1821. It includes original drawings, watercolours, and collages by James Wallis and Joseph Lycett including views, portraits of Aboriginal people, botanical, and natural history illustrations.

[1a.] Cascade interior N. Holland, July 17th 1818. [1b.] Port Macquarie N. Holland, October 11th 1818 View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a5491004
About this item: 

A grangerised volume of James Wallis' ‘An Historical account of the colony of New South Wales...'. London : Printed For R. Ackermann, Repository Of Arts, Strand, by J. Moyes, Greville Street, 1821. It includes original drawings, watercolours, and collages by James Wallis and Joseph Lycett including views, portraits of Aboriginal people, botanical, and natural history illustrations.

[2a.] View of Newcastle. New South Wales, engrav'd by W. Preston from a Drawing by Captn. Wallis, 46th Regt. [2b.] Wallis Lake near Cape Hawke, N. Holland, October 27th 1818 View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a5491005
About this item: 

A grangerised volume of James Wallis' ‘An Historical account of the colony of New South Wales...'. London : Printed For R. Ackermann, Repository Of Arts, Strand, by J. Moyes, Greville Street, 1821. It includes original drawings, watercolours, and collages by James Wallis and Joseph Lycett including views, portraits of Aboriginal people, botanical, and natural history illustrations.

Various botanical drawings, n.d. View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a5491006
About this item: 

A grangerised volume of James Wallis' ‘An Historical account of the colony of New South Wales...'. London : Printed For R. Ackermann, Repository Of Arts, Strand, by J. Moyes, Greville Street, 1821. It includes original drawings, watercolours, and collages by James Wallis and Joseph Lycett including views, portraits of Aboriginal people, botanical, and natural history illustrations.

Various drawings, n.d. View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a5491007
About this item: 

A grangerised volume of James Wallis' ‘An Historical account of the colony of New South Wales...'. London : Printed For R. Ackermann, Repository Of Arts, Strand, by J. Moyes, Greville Street, 1821. It includes original drawings, watercolours, and collages by James Wallis and Joseph Lycett including views, portraits of Aboriginal people, botanical, and natural history illustrations.

Eight mostly untitled watercolour drawings, n.d. View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a5491008
About this item: 

A grangerised volume of James Wallis' ‘An Historical account of the colony of New South Wales...'. London : Printed For R. Ackermann, Repository Of Arts, Strand, by J. Moyes, Greville Street, 1821. It includes original drawings, watercolours, and collages by James Wallis and Joseph Lycett including views, portraits of Aboriginal people, botanical, and natural history illustrations.

[Untitled drawing possibly of a Magpie Goose], n.d. View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a5491009
About this item: 

A grangerised volume of James Wallis' ‘An Historical account of the colony of New South Wales...'. London : Printed For R. Ackermann, Repository Of Arts, Strand, by J. Moyes, Greville Street, 1821. It includes original drawings, watercolours, and collages by James Wallis and Joseph Lycett including views, portraits of Aboriginal people, botanical, and natural history illustrations.

Portraits flanked by two botanical drawings, n.d. View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a5491010
About this item: 

A grangerised volume of James Wallis' ‘An Historical account of the colony of New South Wales...'. London : Printed For R. Ackermann, Repository Of Arts, Strand, by J. Moyes, Greville Street, 1821. It includes original drawings, watercolours, and collages by James Wallis and Joseph Lycett including views, portraits of Aboriginal people, botanical, and natural history illustrations.

[Giant Swamp Lily], n.d. View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a5491011
About this item: 

A grangerised volume of James Wallis' ‘An Historical account of the colony of New South Wales...'. London : Printed For R. Ackermann, Repository Of Arts, Strand, by J. Moyes, Greville Street, 1821. It includes original drawings, watercolours, and collages by James Wallis and Joseph Lycett including views, portraits of Aboriginal people, botanical, and natural history illustrations.

The Fish of New South Wales, n.d. View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a5491012
About this item: 

A grangerised volume of James Wallis' ‘An Historical account of the colony of New South Wales...'. London : Printed For R. Ackermann, Repository Of Arts, Strand, by J. Moyes, Greville Street, 1821. It includes original drawings, watercolours, and collages by James Wallis and Joseph Lycett including views, portraits of Aboriginal people, botanical, and natural history illustrations.

Blandfordia Nobilis, n.d. View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a5491013
About this item: 

A grangerised volume of James Wallis' ‘An Historical account of the colony of New South Wales...'. London : Printed For R. Ackermann, Repository Of Arts, Strand, by J. Moyes, Greville Street, 1821. It includes original drawings, watercolours, and collages by James Wallis and Joseph Lycett including views, portraits of Aboriginal people, botanical, and natural history illustrations.

Title page from An historical account of the colony of New South Wales, 1821 View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a5491015
About this item: 

A grangerised volume of James Wallis' ‘An Historical account of the colony of New South Wales...'. London : Printed For R. Ackermann, Repository Of Arts, Strand, by J. Moyes, Greville Street, 1821. It includes original drawings, watercolours, and collages by James Wallis and Joseph Lycett including views, portraits of Aboriginal people, botanical, and natural history illustrations.

Dedication page from An historical account of the colony of New South Wales, 1821 View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a5491017
About this item: 

A grangerised volume of James Wallis' ‘An Historical account of the colony of New South Wales...'. London : Printed For R. Ackermann, Repository Of Arts, Strand, by J. Moyes, Greville Street, 1821. It includes original drawings, watercolours, and collages by James Wallis and Joseph Lycett including views, portraits of Aboriginal people, botanical, and natural history illustrations.

A View of the Cove and Part of Sydney, New South Wales, ca. 1818 View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a5491074
About this item: 

A grangerised volume of James Wallis' ‘An Historical account of the colony of New South Wales...'. London : Printed For R. Ackermann, Repository Of Arts, Strand, by J. Moyes, Greville Street, 1821. It includes original drawings, watercolours, and collages by James Wallis and Joseph Lycett including views, portraits of Aboriginal people, botanical, and natural history illustrations.

Vaucluse Bay, Port Jackson, New South Wales, ca. 1818 View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a5491075
About this item: 

A grangerised volume of James Wallis' ‘An Historical account of the colony of New South Wales...'. London : Printed For R. Ackermann, Repository Of Arts, Strand, by J. Moyes, Greville Street, 1821. It includes original drawings, watercolours, and collages by James Wallis and Joseph Lycett including views, portraits of Aboriginal people, botanical, and natural history illustrations.

View of Sydney, looking towards old Barrack Square, ca. 1818 View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a5491076
About this item: 

A grangerised volume of James Wallis' ‘An Historical account of the colony of New South Wales...'. London : Printed For R. Ackermann, Repository Of Arts, Strand, by J. Moyes, Greville Street, 1821. It includes original drawings, watercolours, and collages by James Wallis and Joseph Lycett including views, portraits of Aboriginal people, botanical, and natural history illustrations.

View of Awabakal Aboriginal people, ca. 1818 View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a5491077
About this item: 

A grangerised volume of James Wallis' ‘An Historical account of the colony of New South Wales...'. London : Printed For R. Ackermann, Repository Of Arts, Strand, by J. Moyes, Greville Street, 1821. It includes original drawings, watercolours, and collages by James Wallis and Joseph Lycett including views, portraits of Aboriginal people, botanical, and natural history illustrations.

North and South Heads in Port Jackson, New South Wales, ca. 1818 View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a5491078
About this item: 

A grangerised volume of James Wallis' ‘An Historical account of the colony of New South Wales...'. London : Printed For R. Ackermann, Repository Of Arts, Strand, by J. Moyes, Greville Street, 1821. It includes original drawings, watercolours, and collages by James Wallis and Joseph Lycett including views, portraits of Aboriginal people, botanical, and natural history illustrations.

View of Awabakal Aboriginal people, ca. 1818 View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a5491079
About this item: 

A grangerised volume of James Wallis' ‘An Historical account of the colony of New South Wales...'. London : Printed For R. Ackermann, Repository Of Arts, Strand, by J. Moyes, Greville Street, 1821. It includes original drawings, watercolours, and collages by James Wallis and Joseph Lycett including views, portraits of Aboriginal people, botanical, and natural history illustrations.

Sydney from Darlinghurst, ca. 1818 View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a5491080
About this item: 

A grangerised volume of James Wallis' ‘An Historical account of the colony of New South Wales...'. London : Printed For R. Ackermann, Repository Of Arts, Strand, by J. Moyes, Greville Street, 1821. It includes original drawings, watercolours, and collages by James Wallis and Joseph Lycett including views, portraits of Aboriginal people, botanical, and natural history illustrations.

View of Awabakal Aboriginal people, with beach and river inlet, and distant Aboriginal group in background , ca. 1818 View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a5491081
About this item: 

A grangerised volume of James Wallis' ‘An Historical account of the colony of New South Wales...'. London : Printed For R. Ackermann, Repository Of Arts, Strand, by J. Moyes, Greville Street, 1821. It includes original drawings, watercolours, and collages by James Wallis and Joseph Lycett including views, portraits of Aboriginal people, botanical, and natural history illustrations.

View of Dawe's Battery at the Entrance of Sydney Cove, New South Wales, ca. 1818 View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a5491082
About this item: 

A grangerised volume of James Wallis' ‘An Historical account of the colony of New South Wales...'. London : Printed For R. Ackermann, Repository Of Arts, Strand, by J. Moyes, Greville Street, 1821. It includes original drawings, watercolours, and collages by James Wallis and Joseph Lycett including views, portraits of Aboriginal people, botanical, and natural history illustrations.

View of a river landscape with five cut out pasted down drawings of five standing Aborigines , ca. 1818 View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a5491083
About this item: 

A grangerised volume of James Wallis' ‘An Historical account of the colony of New South Wales...'. London : Printed For R. Ackermann, Repository Of Arts, Strand, by J. Moyes, Greville Street, 1821. It includes original drawings, watercolours, and collages by James Wallis and Joseph Lycett including views, portraits of Aboriginal people, botanical, and natural history illustrations.

Back cover. One hand-coloured engraving, laid down, of Vaucluse Bay, 1820-1821 View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a5491086

This story has been developed with the support of the State Library of NSW Foundation.

We would like to acknowledge the generosity of Noble Resources and the late Anthony Gilbert