View of Mr Slaney’s House, Norfolk Island, Lat. 29 1 – South Long. 168 Eastc 1800

by Unknown artist

This painting of convict Richard Slaney’s house dates from the first penal settlement on Norfolk Island, founded in 1788. Transferred to the island in 1790, and encouraged to become self-sufficient, by 1796 Slaney and his convict wife, Elizabeth Barker, were successfully farming 60 acres. Slaney’s sentence expired in 1798. With the awkward perspective and simplicity of naïve art, the foreground shows vignettes (probably of Slaney), on the right, and his servants going about their business. The painting typifies the desire to display pride and success even in a challenging and strange environment. It is likely that Slaney had this painted in England — the establishment of a charity in his name, in Lichfield in 1827, suggests he returned to England and led a respectable life.