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Stephen Butts on a white horse, Macquarie Street, Sydneyc 1850

by Joseph Fowles

For this portrait, commercial traveller and publican Stephen Butts chose to be depicted in front of his fashionable Macquarie Street residence, seated on his favourite horse. By parading his possessions Butts was making clear — intentionally or otherwise — his social position and aspirations. 

Butts’ choice of artist indicates his lack of experience of the conventions of portraiture at the time. His chosen artist, Joseph Fowles, was not known as a portrait painter, but rather as a marine and animal artist.