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  • Title
    Item 02: [Lachlan Macquarie, ca.1805] / attributed to John Opie
  • Creator
  • Call number
    ML 37
    Status: On display – Paintings from the Collection, Room 2, West Wall, no. 125
  • Level of description
  • Date

  • Type of material
  • Reference code
  • Issue Copy
  • Physical Description
    1 painting - oil - 74.3 x 61.6 cm. inside frame; 92 x 80 cm. framed
  • Copying Conditions
    Out of copyright: Artist died before 1955
    Please acknowledge:: Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
  • General note

    The acquisition of this portrait by the Library from Lt. Col Gardyne in April 1914 was first noticed in the Sydney press in April 1914: see The Sun 17 April 1914 p.1; and The Sydney Morning Herald of 18 April 1914 p.6.

    The donor, Lt Col. Charles Greenhill Gardyne, first believed the artist to be John Graham (later known as John Graham-Gilbert), following an attribution from James Caw, who was the Director of the National Gallery of Scotland. Later he, and the Mitchell Library attributed the painting to John Opie, as there is a reference in his journal to Macquarie transferring a portrait "which I have lately sat for" to the care of his sister: Journal, dated 20 April 1805 (A770, p.576). Macquarie records that he paid Opie 28 guineas for a "half-length Picture".

    In April 1987, the portrait was unframed for cleaning. A signature "J Graham Gilbert RSA" inscribed in ink was noted on the lowest stretcher bar. As Graham Gilbert was only 15 when Macquarie left England for NSW in 1809, on this ground, and stylistically, it is clear that he is not the artist of the portrait.

    While it has not been possible to compare this portrait directly with other examples of Opie's work an attribution to Opie, supported by Macquarie's own diary references, is convincing.

    While the military uniform of the subject does not immediately accord with an understanding of Macquarie's rank or regiment, which has led to questions since the 1980s whether this is in fact a portrait of Macquarie (particularly after comparison with the Richard Read Sydney portraits of 1822 at ML 36 and P2/144), recent research and comparison of the painting with the miniatures in the Library's collections at MIN 236 and P*92 confirms an attribution of Macquarie.

    The portrait had been in the possession of Macquarie's daughter-in-law, Isabella, who presumably inherited it from her husband Lachlan Junior (1814-1845). She gave it to Lt Col. Gardyne because she wanted to ensure that its historical significance was preserved: see https://www.mq.edu.au/about/campus-services-and-facilities/library/about-us/lachlan-and-elizabeth-macquarie-room/family-portraits.

    ML Curator of Pictures, 2005
    See PXn 93, 347 & 698 for further notes on date, artist attribution and subject
    Digital order no:a128471
  • Date note

  • Name
  • Subject
  • Topic
  • Exhibited in

    Faces of Australia: image, reality and the portrait. - State Library of New South Wales (25 May - 12 October, 1992)
    The Governor: Lachlan Macquarie, 1810 to 1821 - State Library of New South Wales (July 2010 - October 2010). Applies to: Vestibule case
    The Governor : Lachlan Macquarie, 1810 to 1821 (Travelling exhibition) - State Library of New South Wales (November, 2010 - March, 2012)
    Paintings from the Collection - State Library of New South Wales

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