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Vaucluse Bay, Port Jackson, New South Wales, 1820 / engraved by Walter Preston, from a drawing by James Wallis
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Vaucluse Bay, Port Jackson, New South Wales, 1820 / engraved by Walter Preston, from a drawing by James Wallis
1 engraving : b & w : 23.2 x 35 cm.
Titled below image: Vaucluse Bay, Port Jackson / New South Wales. Number XI at top right of image. Attribution immediately below image: W. Preston, Sculp, from an original drawing by Capt. Wallis 46th Regt. Publication statement at bottom of sheet: London, Pubd. Sepr 1 1820, at R. Ackermann's, 101 Strand.
Walter Preston, engraver, was 23 years old in February 1811 when he was found guilty at the Old Bailey, London, of highway robbery (assaulting an apprentice at night in Tottenham Court Road and stealing a watch chain and watch key). He was sentenced to death but his sentence was respited to transportation for life and he arrived in Sydney on the convict transport Guildford in January 1812. On arrival he seems to have been assigned to emancipated convict Absalom West who published a series of 'Views in New South Wales' between 1812 and 1814, for which publication 10 plates were engraved by Preston. He might have done more had he not committed a colonial offence for which he was transported to Newcastle as a place of secondary punishment.
Preston engraved this plate of Vaucluse Bay while serving his sentence at Newcastle where Captain James Wallis was commandant from June 1816 until December 1818. A proof engraving of 'Vaucluse Bay' was finished by December 1817 when a copy was given to Governor Lachlan Macquarie's wife Elizabeth inscribed: "For Mrs Macquarie, with Capt. Wallis's respectful regards - 13 Dec 1817".
In January 1819, soon after Wallis had left Newcastle, the Sydney Gazette announced the publication of a series of 12 original 'Views in New South Wales', including the 'View of Vaucluse'. After Wallis left New South Wales he arranged for the printing of his 'views' by London publisher Rudolph Ackermann. The plates were engraved with the imprint 1 September 1820 and were originally issued without text but were contained within a paper wrapper carrying the interesting information that these 'Australian views, by Captain Wallis', were 'singularly curious, having been engraved on the common sheet copper employed in the coppering of ships, by Preston, a convict.' The wrapper carried a description of the Vaucluse Bay view as: 'Lieutenant Governor O'Connell's romantic villa Vaucluse, and singular rock, Bottle & Glass'.
Preston received an absolute pardon in January 1819 and in a colonial muster for 1820 was listed as a servant to Dr D'Arcy Wentworth. Another muster records him as having died in 1821. [MM, September 2018]
Gift of Arthur Chard, Adelaide, November 1963.
Published in:
Plate XI in An historical account of the colony of New South Wales and its dependent settlements : in illustration of twelve views engraved by W. Preston, a convict; from drawings taken on the spot by Captain Wallis of the Forty-Sixth Regiment; London: R. Ackermann, 1821.
Vaucluse House ; V89/71
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