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Lachlan Macquariec 1805

by John Opie

Lachlan Macquarie (1762–1824) is the best-known of all colonial governors. As Governor of NSW between 1810 and 1821, Macquarie is both venerated for his vision for the colony and excoriated for his policies concerning Aboriginal Australians.

Following his return to London from a lucrative military posting in India, Macquarie commissioned this portrait in late 1804 or early 1805 from John Opie. It cost 28 guineas. Keen to make his mark in London, Macquarie’s diaries record a busy social life within the upper echelons of society, as well as calculated attempts to advance his career. About to leave London for India again, Macquarie noted on 20 April 1805 that he had given the portrait to his sister, recording that it had been ‘painted by Mr. Opie one of the most eminent artists now in London, — This Picture is reckoned by every one who has seen it very like me’.