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  • Title
    Edward Charles Close - New South Wales Sketchbook: Sea Voyage, Sydney, Illawarra, Newcastle, Morpeth, c. 1817-1840
  • Creator
  • Call number
    SAFE/PXA 1187
  • Level of description
  • Date

  • Type of material
  • Reference code
  • Issue Copy
  • Physical Description
    35 drawings (1 bound volume with two loose sheets) - 26 watercolours, 2 monochrome wash drawings, 6 pencil drawings, 1 ink drawing, 2 handwritten sheets - 22.8 x 28.6 cm

    This sketchbook, along with its companion volume in the National Library of Australia collection, have long been attributed, on the basis of family tradition, to Sophia Campbell (1777-1833), nee Palmer. She was the sister of John Palmer ( 1760-1833) and later wife of colonial merchant and pioneer pastoralist, Robert Campbell (1769-1846).

    It has been definitively re-ascribed to Edward Close (1790-1866), soldier, engineer, magistrate, member of the Legislative Council, and settler in Morpeth, known as `Father of the Hunter’.

    Close familial links exist between Sophia Campbell and Edward Close which have contributed to the obscuring of attribution. Edward Close married Sophia Campbell’s niece, Sophia Susannah Palmer; and their daughter, Marrianne Colinson Close married one of Sophia Campbell’s sons, George. Two of Close’s sons were given the middle names Palmer and Campbell.

    The attribution to Close is made on the basis of several factors. First, the sketchbook was made in London by art materials supplier, Rudolph Ackermann. It includes paper watermarked 1816. Sophia Campbell left NSW with her husband in 1810. They returned to the colony five years later in 1815 before the sketchbook was made.

    Eight of the watercolours at the front of the sketchbook describe a voyage to Australia made y the barque Matilda. The regiment of Edward Close, the 48th North Hamptonshire Regiment of the Foot, travelled tot eh colony on the Matilda in 1817. Two of the views are inscribed as having been taken from on board the Matilda.

    Thirdly, the views of India and Gibraltar also resonate with Close’s life story. Son of an East India Company trader, he was himself born in Rangamati, Bengal, and he served in the Peninsular War in 1808-1814 and was stationed at Gibraltar from September 1808 to May1909.

    Fourthly, in New South Wales, following colonial service as engineer at Newcastle, Close resigned his commission and was granted land on the Hunter River. A corner of his river front property ‘lllaulang’ became the township of Morpeth, and Close funded the construction of St James’s Church of England, which was dedicated on 31 December 1940. The town and its church feature in a pencil sketch in the present work and a watercolour in the National Library sketchbook. Sophia Campbell died in 1833, well before the church was built,

    Finally, the apparent stylistic inconsistencies, even anomalies between the various component drawings in the twin sketchbooks can be explained by reference to Close’s amateur status. As a military officer he would have had some training in topographical rendering, and the coastal and landscape watercolours are the most detailed, polished arid spatially convincing of the drawings in the book. Lacking academic training, he is naturally rather less comfortable with anatomy, which explains the naiveté of his figure compositions.

    A similar wide variety of subject, theme and finish is also to be found in a third collection, a scrapbook in the Mitchell Library which bears the dedication (in a hand very close, if not identical, to that found in sketchbook inscriptions): ‘The Paintings and sketches of / Edward Charles Close Esqre H.M. 48th Reg.t / His gift to his only daughter Marrianne Collinson Close / Morpeth February 17th 1844.’

    This re-attribution represents a substantial shift in the canon of early colonial art. This sketchbook, and the National Library sketchbook, can now be matched to the signed Newcastle panorama and Mitchell Library scrapbook both by Edward Close.

    David Hansen, Sotheby's catalogue, Lot 213, Melbourne, 9 May 2009. pp 24-29
  • Collection history
    From a private collection, United Kingdom; by descent through the family of the artist
  • Scope and Content
    Sketchbook of 30 folios (three cut out) containing 26 watercolours, two monochrome wash drawings and six pencil sketches or rough notations, together with a separate ink drawing by another hand and two handwritten sheets of Whatman wove paper (watermarked with the date 1816), bound in morocco.

    Except where specifically described, all works are watercolours, and are on single sheets.

    Inside front cover
    Rough sketch map of the side of Sydney Harbour.
    Inscribed: Bondi Bay (lower right) and with the letter C on the west side of Double Bay.
    Bears supplier’s label: R. ACKERMANNS/ REPOSITORY / Strand, London (top left).

    Panoramic view of Rio de Janeiro from the sea, Sugarloaf and Corcovado mountains Point Sao Joao, a boat with officers in the foreground.
    Double page

    Panoramic view of Madeira from the sea, with a fishing vessel in the foreground and a sailing ship in the distance.
    Inscribed `Madeira taken on board the Mattilda [sic] (upper right).
    Double page

    Two coastal profiles of the Curtis Group (Curtis Island, Cone Islet and Sugarloaf Rock), Bass Strait. Inscribed Basse’s Straits (upper centre);
    Appearance of Sir Roger Curtis’ Isle & peaks as passed at 10 am by Mitilda [sic] (upper centre); Sir Roger Curtis’ Group bearing N.N.E (lower centre)

    Two coastal profiles: Porto Santo Island, Atlantic Ocean, and the Kent Group (Deal, Erith and Dover Islands), Bass Strait.
    Inscribed `Porto Santo bearing S – W. to S.E. (upper left); Kent’s Group & Judgement rock Basse’s Straits. E.N.E (centre left)

    Two coastal profiles of lIe St Paul, Atlantic Ocean.
    Inscribed: `St Pauls (upper left); NE by E. (upper left); B by N. (upper right); St Pauls (centre left); Bearing N.W. (centre)

    Paddle steamer, river’s edge and buildings.
    Preliminary sketch for detail of finished watercolour Morpeth, from above the new Steam Co.’s wharf’ (in related sketchbook, National Library of Australia)

    Catalan Bay, Gibraltar, with houses and fishermen in the foreground. Inscribed `Cataline [sic] Bay / Gibraltar’ (upper right)

    The Katra Mosque, Murshidabad. Bengal (after an engraving in William Hodges’s Select views in India, 1788, vol. 2 plate 17).
    Inscribed: `View of the Cuttera. built by / Jaffier Cawn at Muxadabad. / East Indies’ (upper right)

    Panorama of Hyde Park Barracks and Sydney Hospital, from the Domain. Pencil.
    Sketch for finished watercolour in related sketchbook, National Library of Australia.
    Double page

    `Sydney in all its glory’
    Inscribed with title (upper right).
    Double page

    Storm above Red Point and the Five Islands, Illawarra, with Aborigines in the foreground.
    Inscribed: `Five Islands’ (upper right)

    Lake landscape with settler’s hut and Aborigines.
    Inscribed: `Tom Thumb’s Lagoon’ (upper right)

    Lake and mountain landscape with Aborigines in a canoe in the foreground. Inscribed: `Tom Thumbs Lagoon’ (upper right)

    Coastal landscape with settler’s hut, Illawarra
    Inscribed: `Five Islands’ (upper right)

    Settler’s huts and fenced enclosure, with a family of Aborigines, Illawarra.
    Ink and brown wash
    Inscribed: `lllawarra’ (upper right).

    View of Newcastle.
    Ink and brown wash

    Studies of a hat and two figures - preliminary sketches for ‘The costume of the Australasians’

    The costume of the Australasians.
    Inscribed with title (lower left)
    This drawing is a primary source for the history of clothing in Australia. Distinctive in its social inclusiveness and its tone of amiable satire, it includes rare images of convicts, and records the prisoners’ apparent easy co-existence with free settlers and with their military gaolers.
    Shows a total of ten figures including the Governor’s aide-de-camp Lt John Watts; an officer; soldier; a bandsman of the 73rd Regiment (McLeod’s Highlanders); wealthy colonial figures; convicts on government service.

    Sketch: huts, cart, tree, figure.

    Sydney Church and Regimental Mill from the Main Guard.
    Inscribed with title (lower left)

    Morpeth, from above the new Steam Co.’s wharf.
    Sketch for finished watercolour in National Library sketchbook.

    Panoramic view of Barrack Square, Sydney.
    Pencil, ink and coloured wash
    Inscribed: `old Barrack Square’ (upper right).
    Unfinished - closely related to (though not a direct study for) finished watercolour in National Library sketchbook.

    Two portrait studies: John Jacques. Keeper of the Sydney Gaol; and Michael Massey Robinson, Chief Clerk to the Colonial Secretary.
    Inscribed: `Jaques’ (upper left, vertical); `Mich Robinson’ (upper right); `The Poet Laureat [sic]’ (upper right)

    Courtroom scene, Sydney: the ‘Philo Free’ civil libel trial, 1 December 1817. Inscribed: `G. Allen’ (upper right, vertical); `G. Crosley’ (upper right, vertical)

    The ‘Philo Free’ trial took place in Sydney in 1817 and was the first libel case heard in the colony. In this matter, Rev. Samuel Marsden accused Colonial Secretary John Campbell (no relation to Sophia) of libeling him through a letter published in the Sydney Gazette which suggested that, under the aegis of the Missionary Society, the ‘Christian Mahomet’ had operated as a gun-runner and moonshiner in the Pacific islands; includes caricatures of several notable figures including Marsden at the right, the defendant Campbell on the left and possibly Judge-Advocate John Wylde behind him, as well as the lawyers Frederick Garling, William Moore, George Allen and George Crossley

    Forest landscape with kangaroo and waratah

    Forest landscape with man chopping wood

    Stream running through ravine

    Landscape with crops, fence, stream and distant mountains

    Landscape with cleared paddocks and homestead under mountains

    Artist unknown (probably Francis Allman, 1780-1860), `My house as Police
    Magistrate, Goulburn, 1834’
    Inscribed with title (upper right); inscribed: `View from the / Church
    Yard’ (lower centre)
    Separate sheet

    Notes by child of Edward Close (probably Marrianne Collinson Campbell) containing a list of witnesses and a transcription of the beginning of William Bligh’s opening speech, from the court-martial of Major George Johnston, 7th May 1811
    Separate sheets
  • Access Conditions
    For access to this pictures collection please submit your request through Ask a Librarian
  • Copying Conditions
    Out of copyright:
    Please acknowledge:: Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
  • Published Information
    James Broadbent and Joy Hughes (eds), The age of Macquarie. Melbourne, 1992. pp. 49 (illus. pp.33, 90, 150)¶¶Cedric Flower, Clothes in Australia: a pictorial history 1788-1980s, Kenthurst, 1984. Cover (illus.), p.49 (illus.)¶¶Caroline Jordan, Picturesque pursuits : colonial women artists and the amateur tradition, Melbourne, 2005. pp. 53-60, 85 (illus. p. 56, l,X¶¶Joan Kerr & Hugh Falkus, From Sydney Cove to Duntroon : a family album of early life in Australia, London, 1982. pp. (il pp. 8, 27, 34-35, 36-37. 39,40,41.45,47,48)¶¶Joan Kerr (ed), The dictionary of Australian artists : painters, sketchers, photographers and engravers to 7870. Melbourne, 1992. pp. 132-133¶¶Joan Kerr (ed), Heritage: the national women’s art book, Sydney, 1995. pp. 324-325¶¶Clem Sargent, The colonial garrison 7877-7824: the 48th Foot the Northamptonshire regiment in the colony of New South Wales, Canberra, 1996.
  • Variant title

    Sydney Church and Regimental Mill from the Main Guard - previously captioned Sydney Church and Regimental Mile from the Main Guard.
  • General note

    Other work by Edward Close is held:

    Mitchell Library
    Edward Close, Album, c. 1805-1840 (PXE 868)
    Edward Close, Panorama of Newcastle 1821, watercolour (PXD 576)

    National Library of Australia
    Sketchbook circa 1817-1840 (PlC R7249-7276 LOC 8631)
    Digital order no:Album ID : 877410
  • Conservation note

    Sketchbook re-bound, June 2009
  • Exhibited in

    ONE hundred : celebrating the Mitchell Library centenary - State Library of New South Wales (9 March - 16 June, 2010)
    The Governor: Lachlan Macquarie, 1810 to 1821 - State Library of New South Wales (July, 2010 - October, 2010)
    Treasures of Newcastle from the Macquarie Era - Newcastle Region Art Gallery (February, 2013 - May, 2013)
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