Illustrating the Antipodes: George French Angas in Australia and New Zealand 1844-1845

By Philip Jones

George French Angas (1822–1886) was one of the nineteenth century’s outstanding colonial artists. As a young man in the 1840s he journeyed to Australia and New Zealand, where he excelled at capturing the minute detail of plants and people, objects and landscapes. The bush was his studio — he captured these transient moments opportunistically in pencil sketches, before working them into fine watercolours and finally into lithographs. When Angas completed this remarkable series of expeditions and publications he was barely 27 years old.

Angas personified the archetypal travelling artist of the era, wielding his brush and pencil with imperial confidence. The result is a set of accurate, insightful images and descriptions of the new lands and peoples encountered by Westerners during the early nineteenth century.

Angas’s place in art history has been blurred, even stymied, by his choice of medium — lithographs — and his delicate watercolours have rarely been seen since the 1840s, until now.

In this fully illustrated volume, Philip Jones has used Angas’ sketches, watercolours, lithographs and journal accounts to retrace his Antipodean journeys in vivid detail. Set in the context of his time, Angas emerges both as a brilliant artist and as a flawed Romantic idealist, rebelling against his father’s mercantilism while entirely reliant upon the colonial project enabling him to depict Indigenous peoples and their ways of life.

380 pages
hardcover, b/w & colour illustrations


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