Free for educational use
Augustus Earle and his Dog, Jemmy
Year of production - 2008
Duration - 5min 30sec
Tags - art, Australian History, colonisation, exploration, Indigenous Australia, portraiture, see all tags
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From the series Hidden Treasures – Inside the National Library of Australia.
The National Library of Australia is the country’s largest reference library with over nine million items in its collection, including a surprising number of art works. In a new series of Hidden Treasures, Betty Churcher presents an insider’s guide to some of the little known and rarely displayed art treasures held by the National Library. From her unique vantage point, Churcher makes intriguing historical connections between paintings and engravings, photography, manuscripts and artefacts, illustrated journals and diaries. These are fascinating tales about the creative process and the works themselves that offer a tantalising insight into Australia’s culture and heritage.
A Film Australia National Interest Program in association with Early Works. Produced in association with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. With special thanks to the National Library of Australia.
Students are required to reflect critically on meanings and values associated with particular visual artworks. They use the language and terminology to analyse the style, technique, subject matter and design of artworks.
Please refer to the Curriculum and Assessment Authority in your State or Territory for Study guides and learning standards.
Misadventure turned to good fortune when young English artist Augustus Earle was rescued after being marooned on a remote island and accidentally became the colony’s first trained artist. Earle was stranded for nine months with his dog, Jemmy, on an island in the South Atlantic Ocean when his ship sailed without him in March 1824. He filled his time recording life on the island until his art supplies ran out. The artist and his dog appear in many of his island paintings. Earle was eventually picked up by a ship bound for Sydney and during the few years he lived in the colony he became its foremost painter. Included in the National Library’s collection is an 1826 oil portrait of Bungaree, the first Aborigine to circumnavigate Australia.
- The key images in this episode are the portrait and lithograph of the Aboriginal man, Bungaree.
- Describe the way Bungaree is portrayed in the portrait, including his clothing, ornamentation or decorations, pose or stance, and the background.
- What impression do you gain of Bungaree? Why do you think you gain that impression—how do each of the elements in the portrait help to create that reaction in the viewer?
- What do you think is the main message that the painter, Augustus Earle, is trying to convey in this portrait?
- How is this image or impression of Bungaree changed in the lithographs that were created from the portrait?
- Why do you think people would have presented the portrait in this way?
- The presenter does not tell us that Bungaree ended his life as a beggar and a drunk. Does this knowledge make any difference to the messages and meanings of the portrait? Explain your views.
- Summarise in just one or two sentences why this portrait is a ‘treasure’ in our knowledge and understanding of aspects of Australian art history.