Exploring Charles Rodius

Event recorded on 19 June 2023

Text reads Charles Rodius, with landscape drawings appearing in the letters of Rodius. Above are 6 portrait drawings of people.
Curator David Hansen discusses the Library’s exhibition, Charles Rodius, with Mitchell Librarian Richard Neville.
Caption on bottom

Discover the stories behind the Library’s exhibition, Charles Rodius, which shines a light on the achievements of one of colonial Australia’s most distinguished but least-known portrait artists.

Hear from guest curator Dr David Hansen in conversation with Mitchell Librarian Richard Neville, as they explore the life and work of convict artist and gifted draughtsman, Charles Rodius. Hamburg-born, Paris-trained, London-domiciled Rodius was transported to New South Wales in 1829 for stealing a lady’s handbag at the opera. Not only do his landscape sketches, watercolours and prints provide significant and accurate records of post-Macquarie Sydney, but he is also arguably one of the finest portraitists of the mid-19th century.

The exhibition brings together closely-related drawings and prints by the artist which are scattered across these three collections at the State Library of New South Wales, the National Library of Australia, Canberra, and the British Museum, London – permitting for the first time a close assessment of the relationship between different depictions of the same subject, and between life drawing and commercial lithography.

David Hansen has worked as a regional gallery director, a State museum curator and an art auction house researcher and specialist; from 2014 to 2022 he was Associate Professor at the Centre for Art History and Art Theory at the Australian National University. With over 30 years’ experience in the visual arts and museums sector, Dr Hansen has curated more than 80 exhibitions, while his writings on art have been widely published in newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, exhibition catalogues and books, including the award-winning John Glover and the Colonial Picturesque (2003) and Dempsey’s People (2017).

Richard Neville is Mitchell Librarian and Director, Engagement at the State Library of NSW. Richard has published widely on, and curated many exhibitions about, nineteenth century Australian art and society. He has also been extensively involved in the acquisition, arrangement, description and promotion of the Mitchell Library’s renowned Australian research collections.