Colonial Oil Painting, Fort with Steamship, Early Victorian, Australia c.1860

Colonial Oil Painting, Fort with Steamship, Early Victorian, Australia c.1860


This delightful colonial oil painting came from a Townsville (Queensland, Australia) estate but we can provide no provenance beyond this location. It is unsigned and untitled. We at first assumed the landmass in the background and the rocky hill in the middle plane depicted an idealised image of Magnetic Island and Castle Hill or Kissing Point Fort in Townsville. However, our restoration consultant noted that in her extensive experience the colonial buildings, which appear to be be whitewashed stone with green roofs, were more likely South African.

We've tried to locate all historic sea forts in Australia and South Africa to explore and match their topography with the painting's but none that we could find appear to fit this image.

Nevertheless, the true charm of this image is in the artist's eye for detail and his or her arrangement of an everyday nautical scene. Two sailors can be seen in the foreground caulking the boards of a small sailing vessel, one with his trouser legs rolled up. A larger ship is sailing into the bay as other ships come and go beyond. In the mid plane, at the centre of the image, a small steamer appears to be loading or unloading on a breakwater, a wisp of smoke blowing from it's funnel.

You will see from images of the painting's back that it was done on a linen-and-gesso canvas, probably prepared by the artist. The oil painting has been fully restored and lacquered by our professional restorer. Her assessment of the work was that it was of excellent quality and historical interest.

The painting is sold unframed.


Height 22 cm

Width 38.5 cm

Depth 1.3 cm


Very good restored condition.

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