Sydney Harbour looking west1848

by Jacob Janssen

Janssen, born in Prussia in 1779, travelled widely — in North and South America, India, Singapore and the Philippines — before arriving in Sydney in 1840. The influence of his northern European art training is evident, which differed significantly from the more pastoral and romantic work of British-trained colonial artists like Conrad Martens.

This painting is the work on the left of a two-canvas panorama of Sydney Harbour, looking down the harbour from above Vaucluse, towards the city. Shark Island is in the foreground. Janssen includes glimpses of colonial life that rarely make it into the work of British artists — while respectable folk travel on New South Head Road, a pair of ruffians hide in the bushes in the lower left corner of the painting, drinking.