Artists

With the French expedition artists, Ferdinand Bauer and William Westall were the first Europeans to portray the land, people, animals, and plants of South Australia.

Ferdinand Bauer

Internet Sites | Further Sources

Ferdinand Bauer was born in Austria in 1760. By his mid-teens he was creating botanical drawings of a high standard. Sir Joseph Banks selected scientists, including botanist Robert Brown, and the artists who accompanied Flinders on the Investigator. On the voyage, Bauer meticulously illustrated plants and animals, and also collected plant specimens, working in close association with the botanist Robert Brown. Bauer's detailed illustrations of plants and seed structure supported Brown's classification of plants. Bauer often sketched in pencil, marking the sketch with numbers from an extensive colour chart to indicate which shade should be used to colour the final art work. Using this system resulted in remarkably lifelike illustrations.

When Bauer returned to England in 1805, it was intended initially that a Flora of Australia would be published with extended descriptions of the plants by Robert Brown, and plates by Bauer. When Joseph Banks grew cold on the idea of this grand Flora of Australia, probably because funds were committed elsewhere, both Bauer and Brown had to try and salvage some of the project, and both had to pay for their own publications.

A perfectionist, Bauer was unable to find craftsmen to engrave and colour plates to his high standards, and so attempted to do this work himself. Lack of funds forced him to abandon the project after completing no more than the first fifteen plates. These were published in three installments of 5 plates each in 1813, 1814 and 1816. The first publication was entitled Illustrationes florae Novae Hollandiae, Neither Bauer nor Brown had much success in selling their expensive publications - not surprising in a period when their country was at war with France. The Atlas to Flinders' A voyage to Terra Australis included black and white plates of Bauer's illustrations.

Bauer returned to his homeland in 1814, where he died 12 years later. The beauty and accuracy of Bauer's illustrations have earned his recognition as one of the greatest natural history artists of all time.

Thanks to the Friends of the State Library of South Australia, the State Library holds a copy of the limited edition of Bauer's illustrations: Illustrationes florae Novae Hollandiae: sive icones generum quae in Prodromo florae Novae Hollandiae et Insulae Van Diemen / descripsit Robertus Brown [London: Alecto Historical Editions in association with the British Museum (Natural History), 1989]

Examples of Bauer's drawings may be viewed at the Natural History Museum Picture Library online.

Images on this page are reproduced with kind permission from the copyright owner the Natural History Museum, London.

Plants which occur in South Australia

The following plants were collected and described by Robert Brown. Although they occur in South Australia, these plants were not collected from this State by Brown or Bauer, as it was the wrong time of the season in most cases.

Plant species which were collected and named by Brown and Bauer in South Australia and also illustrated by Bauer.

Bauer's illustrations of these plants may be viewed on the Natural History Museum website.

  • Solanum hystrix Afghan thistle - collected from St Peters Island in Nuyts Archipelago T21707

  • Cynanchum floribundum Native pear - collected from Mt Brown T21703

  • Eremophila glabra Common emu bush - collected from Fowlers Bay, St Francis island and Mt Brown T21713

  • Eremophila scoparia Silver emu bush - collected from Mt Brown T21712

  • Grevillea pauciflora - Port Lincoln grevillea - collected from Port Lincoln T21733

Additional plants of interest

  • Dodonaea humilis Dwarf hopbush - collected from Memory Cove

  • Flindersia australis Crow's ash, Australian teak - does not occur in South Australia but it was named after Matthew Flinders

  • Stylidium violaceaum Violet trigger plant - Found in South-West Western Australia

Botanical information kindly supplied by: Robyn Barker, Honorary Research Associate, State Herbarium of South Australia, Plant Biodiversity Centre, Hackney Road, HACKNEY SA 5069

Zoological drawings

The State Library holds a copy of Ferdinand Bauer's natural history drawings: taken from the zoological specimens collected on the first circumnavigation of Australia by Matthew Flinders, Commander HMS Investigator, 1801-1803. [London]: Alecto Historical Editions in association with the Natural History Museum, 1997.

Examples of Bauer's drawings may be viewed at the Natural History Museum Picture Library online.

Images on this page are reproduced with kind permission from the copyright owner the Natural History Museum, London.

Internet sites

Australian plant collectors and illustrators [Australian National Botanic Gardens] [Bauer]

Matthew Flinders Collection: Biographies: Ferdinand Bauer

In honour of Ferdinand Bauer

Further sources

Bauer, Ferdinand. The Australian flower paintings of Ferdinand Bauer: Text by William T. Stearn / Introduction by Wilfrid Blunt. London: the Basilisk Press, 1976.

Bauer, Ferdinand. An exquisite eye: the Australian flora & fauna drawings 1801-1820 of Ferdinand Bauer / [authors and editors] Peter Watts, Jo Anne Pomfrett, David Mabberley. Glebe, N.S.W.: Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales, c1997.

Bauer, Ferdinand. Ferdinand Bauer's natural history drawings: taken from the zoological specimens collected on the first circumnavigation of Australia by Matthew Flinders, Commander HMS Investigator, 1801-1803. [London]: Alecto Historical Editions in association with the Natural History Museum, 1997.

Brown, Robert. A fusion of science and art: Robert Brown & Ferdinand Bauer with Matthew Flinders & William Westall aboard the Investigator, 1801-1803. Lance McCarthy, Flinders University, in conjunction with the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide. Adelaide (Sth. Aust.): Flinders University of South Australia, 1996

The Encounter 1802: art of the Flinders and Baudin voyages / [compiled by] Sarah Thomas Adelaide: Art Gallery of South Australia, 2002

Endeavour vol. 19, no. 73, January 1960, pp.27-35. Stearn, W.T. 'Franz and Ferdinand Bauer, masters of botanical illustration.'

Mabberley, D. J. Ferdinand Bauer: the nature of discovery. London: Merrell Holberton and Natural History Museum, 1999

Norst, Marlene. Ferdinand Bauer, the Australian natural history drawings. Melbourne: Lothian Publishing Co., 1989


William Westall

Collection Items | Images | Internet Sites | Further Sources

William Westall was still a student at the Royal Academy when he was selected as the landscape artist for the Flinders' voyage of discovery. At nineteen years of age, he was the youngest member of the scientific staff on the Investigator. Westall was born on 12 October 1781 at Hertford in England, and was taught drawing by his elder half-brother, an established and successful artist and teacher.

It was expected that as the landscape artist to the expedition, Westall would paint landscapes and figures that would clearly delineate Australia and its inhabitants. He was responsible also for recording the coastal profiles that would benefit later navigators. Westall's output for the southern Australian leg of the voyage was not as rich as might be expected for an artist on the 'unknown coast'. It has been said that he was not inspired by the drab Australian bush, and this can be seen in his sketches, which he frequently merged to produce something more picturesque. He certainly produced a greater body of work on the eastern and northern coasts.

When Flinders returned to England aboard the Porpoise, Westall returned with him, and some of his work was damaged in the wreck off the coast of Queensland. Westall decided to continue his return to England via China, while his drawings were taken on to England.

He returned to England in 1805, prepared a painting for a Royal Academy exhibition, and later travelled to Madeira and Jamaica. He painted nine pictures for reproduction in Flinders' Voyage to Terra Australis (1814). In his later life, he exhibited his work from time to time, but was never a successful artist. He died on 20 January 1850.


Collection items

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Westall, William. Drawings by William Westall. - Plate 16.

Plate 16. 'Thistle Island.'
Thistle Island lies at the entrance to Spencer Gulf, and was named after the Master of the Investigator, John Thistle. While Flinders conducted his survey on the island, Thistle took the ship's cutter with 6 crew and the midshipman William Taylor, to cross to the adjacent mainland to search for water. Returning to the ship the cutter and all eight men were lost in the surf. Despite searching for several days, no trace of the men was found apart from a little wreckage. Flinders named the island in memory of Thistle, and adjoining islands after each of the others who died there.


 

Westall, William. Drawings by William Westall. - Plate 19.

Plate 19. 'Port Lincoln : view west from Stamford Hill.'


 

Westall, William. Drawings by William Westall. - Plate 22 & 23,

Plate 22-23. '2 views at the head of the Gulf.' - Plate no .22.
While Flinders surveyed the Head of Spencer Gulf in the cutter, Robert Brown, Ferdinand Bauer and William Westall walked inland and climbed the high mountain that Flinders subsequently named Mt Brown. The walk was harder and further than they anticipated and they spent a chilly night on the mountain without water. The view from the peak was extensive, and important collections of plants were gathered.


 

Westall, William. Drawings by William Westall. - Plate 17.

Plate 17. 'Thistle Island : a snake.'
Before the disaster in which John Thistle and 7 of the crew lost their lives, Flinders and Thistle spent time together on the island. They captured a snake, and after carefully sewing up its mouth so that it could not bite, took it back to the ship, where Westall painted it.


 

Westall, William. Drawings by William Westall. - Plate 18.

Plate 18. 'Port Lincoln : a distant view.'
Westall's view of Port Lincoln shows the extent of the fine harbour as well as the eucalypts and casuarinas that clothed the hillside. This sketch was later used to create a fine oil painting.


 

Westall, William. Drawings by William Westall. - Plate 24.

Plate 24. 'Spencer's Gulf : a native.'


 

Westall, William. Drawings by William Westall. - Plate 25-26.

Plate 26. 'Spencer's Gulf : a native.'


 

Westall, William. Drawings by William Westall. - Plate 29.

Plate 29. 'Kangaroo Island : sailors and servants.'
Kangaroo Island was a paradise for the crew and scientists of the Investigator, after the long weeks of sailing along the fairly arid coast that preceded their arrival on the island. The great numbers of unbelievably tame animals provided a very welcome supply of fresh meat. Several days were spent on the island.


 

Westall, William. Drawings by William Westall. - Plate 30.

Plate 30. 'Kangaroo Island : seals.'
Westall drew a number of sketches while on Kangaroo Island, that he later used to create a large oil painting that shows the kangaroos, emus and seals grazing or resting together.


 

Westall, William. Drawings by William Westall. - Plate 31.

Plate 31. 'Kangaroo Island : a bay on the north-east coast.'


 

Westall, William. Views of Australian scenery. - Kanguroo Island.

'View on the north side of Kanguroo Island.' / painted by W. Westall ; engraved by Byrne,


 

Westall, William. Views of Australian scenery. - Port Lincoln.

'Entrance of Port Lincoln, taken from behind Memory Cove.' / painted by W. Westall ; engraved by Byrne.


 

Art and Australia, vol. 20, no. 2, Summer 1982. - pages 252-256.

Westall, Richard J. 'William Westall in Australia.'


 

Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia, South Australian Branch, vol. 66, 1964-1965 - pages 17-31.

Mander-Jones, P. 'The artists who sailed with Baudin and Flinders.'


 

Images from the State Library catalogue

Sketch by William Westall, 1802 [coastline, location unknown]

Wreck Reef Bank, 1802

Sketch by William Westall, 1802

Sketch by William Westall, 1802

Sketch by William Westall, 1802

Sketch by William Westall, 1802

Aboriginals, 1802. Note: The attached image may show aboriginal people who have died, which may cause sadness and distress to their relatives. Care and discretion should be used when viewing the image.

Internet sites

Matthew Flinders Collection: Biographies: William Westall

PictureAustralia

Pictures Catalogue [National Library of Australia]

Further sources

Art Journal, vol. 12, pp. 104-105, 1850. Westall, R., 'Memoir of William Westall, A.R.A.'

Australian dictionary of biography. Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press; London; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1966-. vol. 2, 1788-1850, I-Z.

The Encounter 1802: art of the Flinders and Baudin voyages / [compiled by] Sarah Thomas Adelaide: Art Gallery of South Australia, 2002

Findlay, Elisabeth. Arcadian quest: William Westall's Australian sketches. Parkes, A.C.T.: National Library of Australia, 1998



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