Ann Piper and her childrenc 1826

by Augustus Earle

Australian-born Mary Ann Piper was the daughter of convicts. She met Captain John Piper during his term as Commandant on Norfolk Island and the couple’s first child was born on Norfolk Island in 1806. 

This large-scale portrait promotes Mary Ann’s status in colonial Sydney, despite her convict ancestry. She is in the grand interior of the palatial family home, Henrietta Villa, at Point Piper. She wears a sheer muslin gown and stylishly-trimmed indoor cap. The matriarch of her clan, she is surrounded by four of her ten children. Beside their mother are Thomas, who holds a long bow, Eliza and Anna Christina Frances; in front, William Sloper beats a drum. Their approximate ages are ten, eight, six and four.