Broulee (1841) and Illawarra (1843-4)

New South Wales, Australia

Michael Organ

'Mount Keira, New South Wales.' Coloured steel engraving by A. Willmore (1876), after an original watercolour by J.S. Prout (1843-4).

Catalogue of Works


John Skinner Prout (1805-76), nephew of the famous English watercolourist Samuel Prout (1783-1852) and himself a watercolourist of note, arrived in Sydney during December 1840, accompanied by his wife and their seven children. Prout hoped to pursue a career in Australia as a professional artist and printer, and as such brought to the Colony a lithographic press, thereby enabling him to set up the 'J.S. Prout and Co. Australian Lithographic Establishment.'

During a rather brief, four year residence in New South Wales between 1840-44, Skinner Prout traveled widely throughout the settled districts around Sydney, seeking subjects for his pen and brush. Like most artists of the period, he journeyed west across the Blue Mountains towards Bathurst, south via steam and sail to Broulee and the Illawarra district, and north to Newcastle and Port Stephens. Following these travels through the then sparsely settled districts, he returned to his Sydney studio where he produced finished works in watercolour and oil for sale, along with various lithographs. Unfortunately, the attempt to set up business as a professional artist and printer was largely unsuccessful - not necessarily due to any failing on the part of Prout, but arising out of the strained economic circumstances in the Colony at that time. As a result, Prout moved himself and his family on to Tasmania in February 1844. Here he was a little more successful in earning a living, due in no small part to the patronage of the Governor Sir John Franklin and his wife, the Lady Jane. The stay in Tasmania was also relatively short, and the Prouts returned to England June 1848.

Whilst a resident in Sydney between 1840-44, Skinner Prout held a number of exhibitions of his work. He also presented lectures on the technique of drawing and painting in watercolour, sold numerous works, and produced a series of lithographic views of the Colony. The economic depression, which took hold during 1841 and continued on through to the second half of that decade, affected art sales and printing opportunities. Prout subsequently found it difficult to support a large family (ultimately to reach nine children) on such a meagre income. He was also subject to competition from local artists, some of whom were long resident in New South Wales and therefore had a more secure client base. Such an artist was the watercolourist Conrad Martens (1801-1878), who, after arriving in Sydney in 1835, had by 1841 established many influential contacts among the small art buying community of New South Wales. Yet even Martens, who received patronage from the highest levels of colonial society, up to the governor, found it difficult to earn a living during the early 1840s and was forced to work in oil to achieve sales. Both Martens and Prout found oil a difficult medium to work with, and the resultant works from this period show a wide variantion in quality.

There are many similarities between Martens and Prout, both as artists and in connection with their experiences in the New South Wales during the early 1840s. Both were primarily watercolourist who painted landscape in the 'picturesque' manner. The Picturesque movement developed in England during the early nineteenth century, alongside the rise in the use of watercolour as a medium of artistic expression. It was reinforced by the writings of Edmund Burke and his revelations on the beauty and sublimity of the natural landscape. The Picturesque as an art movement reached its peak in the work of English artists J.M.W. Turner and John Constable during the 1820s and 1830s. Both Conrad Martens and J. Skinner Prout had learnt their art in this stimulating environment. They were therefore able to bring their ample professional skills to play on the Australian landscape - a landscape very different from that found in England and on the Continent. Despite the fact that both were English watercolourists, and considered themselves professional artists, there appears to have been a certain tension between the two during Prout's brief stay in New South Wales between 1840-4, or at best there is no evidence of a warm freindship or collaboration of any kind. This is strange, as the community of professional artists in Sydney was small, and Martens later commented (1856) on the sense of isolation he experienced, separated from the stimulation of fellow artists.

Upon arrival in the Colony at the end of 1840, Skinner Prout was obviously enthusiastic about the opportunities which lay before him. He did not waste any time in becoming familiar with the local landscape, and immediately began sketching about Sydney Harbour - often cited as the most picturesque of all ports. He also looked to expand his palette by journeying into the bush, a process which eventually took his to the somewhat isolated coastal regions of New South Wales.

Broulee 1841

According to a dated pencil sketch in the Dixson Library collection (refer catalogue no.1 below), during July 1841 Prout traveled to Broulee, a coastal town located some one hundred and eighty miles south of Sydney, near the town of Ulladulla. At the time of Prout's visit, Broulee was the subject of much land speculation, with an attractiveness to investors enhanced by the presence of a secure harbour - this being a rare commodity along the New South Wales south coast. A subdivision known as 'Boat Harbour' had gone on sale there on 9 January 1840 (at the very end of the economic boom period of the late 1830s), and well known Sydney identities such as W.C. Wentworth were amongst the subsequent purchasers of allotments. By July 1841 the development of the port and district of Broulee was proceeding rapidly, spurred on by a brisk sea trade then opening up with Sydney.

Whilst at Broulee, Prout produced a view in pencil of the inner harbour and headland. This was then worked up into a number of watercolours and lithographic prints (cat. nos.1-6). A version appeared as a steel engraving within E.C. Booth's Australia Illustrated, published in London between 1873-6. Without any more precise records of Prout's visit to Broulee, such as letters or diary notes, we can only guess at the circumstances of his travelling so far from Sydney. A study of contemporary shipping records suggests that he may have traveled there on board the brig Trial, under Captain Benton. The journey overland from Sydney would have been long and tedious, whilst there were few sailing or steaming vessels travelling to this isolated coastal settlement at that time. We know the Trial departed Sydney for Broulee on 23 July 1841. It was not there long, as it returned to Sydney on the 31st, having put in at Bulli (Illawarra) en route (Broxham & Nicholson, 1988). The fact that only one basic landscape view of Broulee harbour and headland survives from Skinner Prout's visit there - though with five known variants - suggests that his stay may have been very brief.

As an interesting aside, the Trial was owned and operated by Captain Robert Marsh Westmacott, a Sydney businessman and Illawarra settler at Bulli, former Aid-de-camp to Governor Bourke (1831-37), and himself an amateur topographic artist. According to a notice in the Australian newspaper of 9 March 1841, Skinner Prout was then in the process of publishing a lithograph of the 'Destructive fire at the Albion Mills' based on an original drawing taken by Westmacott. Though no copy of this print has yet been located, Skinner Prout did go on to produce a finished version of this work. His painting 'The Albion Mills on Fire by Moonlight' was shown in Sydney during 1847 by then owner John Rae, at the exhibition of the Society for the Promotion of the Fine Arts in Australia. Westmacott and Skinner Prout were most likely acquainted by the time of the artist's excursion to Broulee in July 1841. It is also interesting to note that Robert Marsh Westmacott was born at Sidmouth, Devon, around 1801, while Skinner Prout's own wife Maria Heathilla Marsh (1807-1871) was also from Sidmouth. The possibility of some Marsh family connection between Maria Prout and Captain Westmacott therefore exists. Another possible link with Prout is the fact that in 1838 Westmacott had had published in England a series of six lithographic prints of New South Wales scenes. They were drawn on stone by W. Gauci and printed by the master British lithographer C. Hullmandel, who during that same year produced three volumes of lithographic views of England by Skinner Prout. They were entitled Antiquities of Chester, Antiquities of York, and The Castles and Abbeys of Monmouthshire. It is possible that Captain Westmacott was one of those in the audience when Skinner Prout presented a series of lectures on 'The Principles and Practice of Painting' in Sydney during December 1841, though this is only conjecture. He may also have been host to the artist and his family when they visited Illawarra during the Christmas - New Year period of 1843-4, just prior to leaving the Colony for Tasmania.

Over the three year period during which Skinner Prout was resident in New South Wales, he engaged in a flurry of activity from his Sydney base, producing a large number of drawings and watercolours, some oils, and a variety of lithographic prints of local scenery. However with the economic situation slow to improve, a decision was made to move the business and family to Tasmania. Before doing so, however, Skinner Prout visited Wollongong and Illawarra, located on the coast some fifty miles south of Sydney.

Illawarra 1843-4

Illawarra was a part of the Colony of New South wales which was very popular with visiting artists such as Augustus Earle (1827) and Conrad Martens (1835). It possessed a truly picturesque landscape - comprising a thin coastal strip covered with lush, temperate rainforest, bound to the west by a steep, mountainous escarpment and on the east by long, sandy beaches with jutting, rocky headlands. Illawarra therefore offered much of interest to the travelling artist who sought the picturesque and sublime in nature. Though located relatively close to the Sydney metropolis - just fifty miles to the south - this district was physically isolated by dense bush, a steep escarpment which lined its western flank and formed an almost impenetrable barrier to horse and buggy, and the lack of any substantial harbour, though Wollongong was the main 'port' at the time. Illawarra was widely known during the 1820s and 1830s as the 'Garden of New South Wales', due to its botanical riches and ample crops. Later the moniker the 'Brighton of the south' was applied when it became a popular holiday destination during the 1850s. The area was therefore something of an unspoilt wilderness in 1843-4, and an ideal locality for an artist such as Skinner Prout, ever in search of picturesque scenery and especially attracted to areas of lush vegetation and mountainous topography (subjects he would find aplenty in Tasmania).

Judging from the internal evidence of various inscribed and dated pencil sketches and watercolours, Skinner Prout was in Illawarra between 29 December 1843 and 9 January 1844 (Table 1), accompanied by his wife and family. During this excursion he sketched in the immediate vicinity of the township of Wollongong, including its harbour and nearby beaches, along with Tom Thumbs Lagoon, Fairy Lake (Para Creek), and Lake Illawarra to the south, plus Mounts Kembla and Keira to the west. Apart from taking views of the landscape and its sub-tropical vegetation, he also produced portraits of local Aborigines, including Old Frying Pan and Yannah Wah (cat nos. 22 & 23). These were not the first of his Australian Aboriginal portraits, as some of his earlier views of the Colony and Sydney Harbour had also included native figures as minor picturesque element. However they may have been his first substantial portraits of the local people. This aspect of his art was later developed whilst he was among the Aborigines of Tasmania. The artist made use of these portraits by incorporating the figures into later watercolours. This is seen in one of his views of the Mount Keira road, produced during 1844 (cat. no.28).

Skinner Prout in Illawarra - Itinerary & Dated Sketches




29 Dec. 1843

Fairy Lake, Woolongong


30 Dec. 1843

On Fairy Creek


1 Jan. 1844

Tom Thumbs Lagoon


4 Jan. 1844

Ferns & Cabbage Trees, Bulgonie


5 Jan. 1944

The South Beach looking towards Woolongong



Illawarra Lake


6 Jan. 1844

Old Frying Pan, Wollongong


8 Jan. 1844

Fern & Cabbage Trees, Mount Keira


9 Jan. 1844

The Northern Beach, Wollongong


Following the visit to Illawarra, Skinner Prout moved to Hobart in February 1844, where he remained active in his artistic pursuits and fostered a small community of amateur artists (Piggot & Brown, 1994). His work there features the sub-tropical rainforests, lakes, and mountainous landscapes which were a particular favourite of the artist, mirroring in a small way his Illawarra work. For example, both Mount Keira (Wollongong) and Mount Wellington (Hobart) feature prominantly in a number of Skinner Prout watercolours, and it is often difficult to distinguish between the two, as both possess prominent escarpment faces. Likewise, the artist oft repeated the view of a headland or hill with an associated long sandy beach heading off into the distance and backed by a far-off monutain range. This is seen in works such as those of Broulee, Lake Illawarra, and various Tasmanian scenes.

Return to England 1848-76

Despite the obvious physical attractions for a landscape artist, Tasmania also had its limitations: it was a young colony, principally penal, and with a relatively small free population. Skinner Prout most likely found it difficult to support his large family on his income from painting and art lessons. Therefore, early in 1848 he decided to return home, and on 11 April 1848 the Prouts boarded the Derwent bound for England. Once back in his home country, Skinner Prout continued to paint, exhibit and produce prints, working as a professional artist right up until the time of his death in 1876. Though he never again visited Australia, his colonial work was not forgotten. In England he toured with a panorama of Australian views, popular as a result of the local goldrushes during the 1850s. He also illustrated E.C. Booth's Australia Illustrated, published in London between 1873-6. It appears that, in association with this work, the artist repainted a large number of his Australian works from the 1840s, producing a series of very colourful watercolours which have since found their way into Australian collections such as the National Library of Australia, the State Library of New South Wales, and various institutions in Tasmania.

The following catalogue of some thirty four Broulee and Illawarra drawings, watercolours and prints therefore presents us with a snapshot view of Prouts oeuvre, and the manner in which he operated during his brief residence in the colonies of New South Wales and Tasmania. We see how, like most watercolourists of his era, he relied heavily on sketchbooks and working out of doors to capture the local landscape, vegetation, peoples, and natural conditions such as light and shade. For this reason, localities close to Sydney such as the harbour foreshores, the Blue Mountains, and Illawarra were obvious attractions as subjects for his art. The preliminary sketches, mostly signed, dated and inscribed to serve as a presice record, would then form the basis for later studio versions in watercolour, oil, or lithograph, for sale to local and overseas patrons. Skinner Prout held on to his original sketchbooks and many of his Australian watercolours after leaving Tasmania, enabling him to supply the large number of images for Australia Illustrated in the years just prior to his death. Some of these works are listed in the Christies catalogue of the sale of his studio contents, which took place on 26 & 27 February 1877. By looking at the Illawarra and Broulee segment of the artist's life we are able to follow through the creative process and ultimate fate of some of these Australian works, important examples of which have been mistitled and mislabled as they pass through private hands and on into public collections. We are also presented with an important historic and pictorial record of the Illawarra region, and Broulee, during the initial phases of white settlement.

On an artisitc level, Skinner Prout's watercolour Tom Thumb's Lagoon by Moonlight (cat. no.12) is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful of all picturesque depictions of Illawarra taken during the colonial period. Until quite recently this was identified with the title 'Tom Thumb Lagoon, Victoria.' Similarly, his Native Encampment series (cat. nos.31-3), were variously listed as Tasmanian until recent times. They now exist as an important ethnographic record, revealing precise details of the typical gunyah and camp used by Illawarra's indigenous inhabitants. This group had, by 1843-4, been marginalized by white settlers and forced to live on the edges of town, by the lakes, or along the fringes of the mountainous escarpment. These works portray elements of the dispossession process which was common throughout Australia. Though originally produced to mirror the majesty and beauty of nature, Skinner Prout's Illawarra watercolours now present us with a picture of a wilderness long gone, and of a people who have all but lost their original identity. The aesthetic beauty and informational value of these works is therefore to be recognised and cherished.

Catalogue of Works

The following listing is arranged primarily according to locality/subject, then chronologically where production date is known. For example, five works relating to Broulee have been identified, ranging from a dated pencil sketch of July 18results in a more historically interesting picture of this segment of Skinner Prout's work, and helps identify his precise movements in Illawarra. it also indicates the ultimate disposition of his preliminary pencil sketches, where such information is known.

All measurements in the following catalogue are in centimetres, given as height followed by width.


1 Bush, Broulee July 41

Pencil on paper

24.2 x 16.2

Dixson Library, State Library of New South Wales, DL PX49 f.9

Pencil sketch of the bush at Broulee, July 1841. This is the only extant sketch which precisely dates Skinner Prout's visit to this area, which is located on the east coast of New South Wales approximately one hundred and eighty miles south of Sydney. It is assumed the artist made a single visit to Broulee. It has been suggested that he also visited Illawarra during this trip south, however there is no evidence for this.

2 [Broulee] 1841

Watercolour on paper

23.3 x 35.4

Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Signed and dated 'J.S. Prout 1841' lower left. Possibly a view of the coastline north of the headland at Broulee. Listed as 'Sandy Bay, Tasmania' in a catalogue of the Fitzwilliam Collection, but more likely the view is of Broulee (T. Brown pers. comm.). The structure of this work is less formally 'picturesque' than many of Prout's other works from this period. For example, the two large wind-bent trees feature prominently in the left foreground, as do two figures in the centre of the picture. As such, the panoramic landscape is hidden behind these two elements. In views of the Broulee harbour headland, the trees for the left frame of the work.

3 Broulee, 180 miles south of Sydney

Watercolour on paper

19.8 x 29.8

Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, ML 389

Signed 'J.S. Prout' and inscribed with title lower left. View of the harbour and headland at Broulee. Note the large house on the headland to left of view, and the long boats laid up on the beach, with associated boatshed sheltered at the base of the cliff. A large tree frames the western edge of the picture. This view is similar to that reproduced in the Austrlaian lithograph Inner Harbour, Broulee, described below (cat. no.4). The view was later (? circa 1873) reproduced as a watercolour, and subsequently as an engraving in Australia Illustrated (London, 1873-76). Refer cat. nos.5-6 below.

4 Inner Harbour, Broulee [c.1847]


22 x 32.3

Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

Signed 'J.S. Prout' lower right. Inscribed with title below the image. View of the headland and harbour at Broulee. This view is slightly more detailed than the watercolour variant (cat. nos.3). It includes a seated Aboriginal figure placed at the base of the tree in the left foreground. It is likely that this print was produced by Prout on his lithographic press whilst resident in Tasmania, and around 1847. Refer Brown & Kolenberg (1986, p.80).

5 Broulee, N.S.W. [c.1873]

Watercolour on paper

22.8 x 37

National Library of Australia NK311/7

Title from inscription on reverse. Similar view to the watercolour Broulee, 180 miles south of Sydney (cat. no.3). This version additionally features some Aboriginal figures in the left foreground and a small whale boat being launched from the beach in the centre of the view. The tree which frames the left of the picture is more lush and 'European' than in the earlier Australian variants, whilst the jutting headland has been shortened. This view is identical to that in the steel engraving of 1873-6 (cat. no.6). It is possible this work was painted around 1873 as it is identical to the steel engraving which subsequently appeared in Australia Illustrated (1873-6). The colouring of the work is also very fresh and vibrant, differing from Australian watercolours of the 1840s by the artist.

6 Broulee, New South Wales [1873-76]

Steel Engraving

18.4 x 21.4

Originally published in E.C. Booth's Australia Illustrated (1873-76, opposite p.101). Engraved by T. Heawood, after an original work by J. Skinner Prout. This view is identical to an extant watercolour (cat. no.5).


7 Fairy Lake, Woolongong 'Decr. 29. 43

Pencil on paper

18.6 x 29.9

Art Gallery of New South Wales 109.1991 AD6.8a

View looking westerly along Para Creek (also known as Fairy Creek) and the associated lagoon, or inter-tidal lake. This site is located adjacent to the beach, just north of Wollongong. The view west features the elevated Mount Keira in the central background, though somewhat exaggerated in closeness and height by the artist. This work is the original sketch for the subsequent Fairy Lake watercolour and engraving (cat. nos.9-10). Both 'Para Creek' and 'Fairy Creek' are the same bodies of water - 'Para' derives from the local Aboriginal word 'Para-meetah' which refers to the freshwater eels which were present in this lagoon; 'Parameetah' was then transformed by local Europeans into 'Para Meadow' or 'Fairy Meadow', in reference to a nearby meadow found close to this site; this in turn saw the name of the 'Para' creek and lagoon system transformed into 'Fairy' creek and lagoon. 'Fairy Lake' is more of a creek estuary than a substantial lake. Conrad Martens also took views from this locality during his visit to Illawarra in July 1835.

8 On Fairy Creek looking towards Ba.. Decr. 30, '43

Pencil & wash on paper

18.2 x 26.4

National Library of Australia Pic R4427

Title from inscription lower left. View looking westerly along Fairy (or Para) Creek towards the Illawarra Escarpment. A figure of an adult woman, with umbrella and hat - perhaps Mrs. Prout - is seen leaning against a large tree in the left of the picture, as some children play by the edge of the lake.

9 Fairy Lake, New South Wales [c.1873]

Watercolour on paper

26 x 36.7

Private collection

Signed lower left. Undated. It is possible this watercolour was painted around 1873, as a prepartory sketch for the engraved version which subsequently appeared in Australia Illustrated. The watercolour is a view after the similarly titled pencil sketch of 29 December 1843 (cat. no.7), combined with elements of the 30 December work (cat. no.8). This view is similar to Conrad Martens' watercolour 'Para Creek' (illustrated L. Lindsay, Conrad Martens: The Man and His Art, 1920, plate XXII, though therein erroneously titled 'Barco Creek'). Both Prout and Martens present a somewhat exaggerated and distorted view of Mount Keira in the central distance, in order to enhance the picturesque nature of the painting. Prout's version was offered for sale by Joseph Brown Galleries, Melbourne, in July, 1975. Illustrated Joseph Brown Galleries catalogue, July 1975, cat. no.5.

10 Fairy Lake, New South Wales [1873-76]

Steel Engraving

18.4 x 21.4

View after the watercolour Fairy Lake, New South Wales (cat. no.9). Engraving originally published in Australia Illustrated (1873-76, opposite p.154). Engraved by A. Willmore.

11 Tom Thumb's Lagoon, Illawara Jany 1st. 44

Pencil on paper

18.7 x 32.9 sheet

Art Gallery of New South Wales 110.1991 AD6.8a

Two-part sketch, being views looking west across Tom Thumbs Lagoon towards the Illawarra Escarpment and Mounts Kembla and Keira. This sketch formed the basis for the Tom Thumb's Lagoon watercolours and engraving (cat. nos. 12-14). Tom Thumb's Lagoon originally skirted the southern border of Wollongong township. It was a shallow, though extensive body of water, and a rich wildlife habitat, providing ample provisions of the local Aboriginal population prior to the arrival of European settlers after 1815. The lagoon was filled in between the 1920s and 1970s to accommodate expansion of the local steelworks and an industrial rubbish dump.

12 Tom Thumbs Lagoon, New South Wales [c.1873]

Watercolour on paper

23.5 x 37.9

National Library of Australia NK311/5

After the two-part pencil sketches of Tom Thumb's Lagoon taken on 1 January 1844 (cat. no.11). This watercolour is a moonlight view looking west across Tom Thumbs Lagoon towards Mounts Keira and Kembla, with a family of Aborigines seen by the lagoon foreshore. The women on shore are observing a male spear fishing. Inscription on reverse: 'Tom Thumb Lagoon, Victoria' though recently retitled as above, following comparison with the published 1873-76 engraving of Tom Thumbs Lagoon, New South Wales. Undated.

13 Tom Thumbs Lagoon, New South Wales [1873-76]

Steel Engraving

18.4 x 21.4

Identical view to the "Tom Thumbs Lagoon' watercolour (cat. no.12). Originally published in Australia Illustrated (1873-76, opposite p.148). Engraved by E. Brandard.

14 Cabbage Trees, Bulgonia - Illawarra - New South Wales, Jany.4.44

Pencil on paper

31.5 x 16

Art Gallery of New South Wales 113.1991

Inscribed as above. Botanical/landscape work. Precise location unknown. The ferns and cabbage palms featured in this sketch were typical of the sub-tropical rainforest vegetation then present along the Illawarra Escarpment. These natural elements became common in Skinner Prout's subsequent landscapes of the region. 'Bulgonie' refers to the Balgownie estate, located a few miles north-west of Wollongong close to the Escarpment, and at the head of Para Creek. This work is most likely a study for the watercolour Gully at Wollongong (cat. no.15).

15 Gully at Wollongong [c.1873]


36.8 x 27.2

Dixson Galleries, State Library of New South Wales, DGD16 f.6

Signed 'J.S. Prout' lower left. Inscribed with title on verso of mount. View of a creek in the lee of the Illawarra escarpment, with typically lush, semi-tropical vegetation of cabbage palms, vines, and ferns. Possibly in the area of Mount Keira. No date. Presented by Sir William Dixson, 1951. Subject of engraving in Australia Illustrated (1873-76). Refer P. McDonald, Painted Panorama (1985, illustrated p.56, colour), and P. McDonald et al., The Artist and the Patron (1987, cat. no.77, illustrated p.97).

16 Gully at Woolongong [1873-76]

Steel Engraving

18.4 x 21.4

After the watercolour Gully at Wollongong (cat. no.15). Published in Australia Illustrated (1873-76, opposite p.150). Engraved by T. Heawood.

17 The Southern Beach looking towards Woolongong, Illawara Jany 5.44

Pencil on paper

16.9 x 26.4 sheet

Art Gallery of New South Wales 112.1991

Signed 'J.S. Prout' lower centre. Title from inscription lower left. Companion work to pencil sketch The northern beach, Wollongong, Jany 9, '44 described below.

18 Illawarra Lake, Jany 5, '44

Pencil & wash on paper

21 x 32.2

National Library of Australia Pic R4419

Signed 'J.S. Prout' lower right. Title from inscription bottom centre. View looking south-west towards Lake Illawarra from Red Point (Hill 60), near present-day Port Kembla. Windang beach is seen to the left of centre, with the entrance to the lake and Bevan's Island in the middle section.

19 Scarborough Bay, N.S.W. 1841 [?Illawarra Lake]

Oil & watercolour on paper and canvas

22 x 32.5

National Library of Australia Pic R9931

Possibly a view looking south-west across Lake Illawarra from Red Point (Hill 60), near present-day Port Kembla, similar to cat. no.18 above. There is no evidence to suggest Prout visited Illawarra or Hill 60 in 1841, and there was no 'Scarborough Bay' in the region at that time. However this work is similar to the artist's 'Illawarra Lake' views of 1843-4.

20 Lake Illawarra, New South Wales [c.1873]


Watercolour & chinese white highlights on paper

27.2 x 38.9

Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, ML PXD75 f.5

Signed 'Skinner Prout' lower right. After the pencil sketch Illawarra Lake, Jany 5, '44 described above. A figure of an elderly Aboriginal man has been included in the central foreground, on the highest most point of land, possibly as a reference to the sacred nature of this site to the local Aboriginal people. A similar view from this precise locality was taken by Conrad Martens during his visit to Illawarra in July 1835 and used as the basis for later watercolours (c.f. Lindsay, 1920). Prout's version was the subject of an engraving in Australia Illustrated (1873-76). Refer Brown & Kolenberg (1986, catalogue no.9, illustrated p.38). Also illustrated Brown (1985, p.520).

21 Lake Illawarra, New South Wales [1873-76]

Steel Engraving

18.4 x 21.4

After the watercolour Lake Illawarra, New South Wales (cat. no. 20). Published in Australia Illustrated (1873-76, opposite p.151). Engraved by E. Brandard.

22 Old Frying Pan, Wollongong Jan 6 1844

Watercolour & chinese white highlights on paper

15.8 x 10

Museum of Mankind, British Museum, London

Signed 'J.S. Prout' lower left, and inscribed 'OLD FRYING PAN / WOLLONGONG / Jany 6 - 44 / N.S.W.' lower centre. Portrait of a well-known Illawarra Aborigine known as Old Frying Pan - Aboriginal name Woorramal or Muramulle - who frequented the streets of Wollongong during the 1840s. Old Frying Pan was interviewed by the geologist Reverend W.B. Clarke during his visit to Illawarra in 1840 and acted as Clarke's guide to a local corroboree during that visit. This is the earliest of Skinner Prout's series of Aboriginal portraits, a subject he subsequently pursued with vigour during his time in Tasmania between 1844-48. Refer Brown & Kolenberg (1986, cat. no.15, illustrated p.41).

23 Yannah Wah, Illawarra, N.S.W. [1843-4]

Watercolour & chinese white highlights on paper

23.8 x 17.37

Museum of Mankind, British Museum, London

Signed 'J.S. Prout' lower left, and inscribed 'YANNAH WAH / ILLAWARRA N.S.W.' lower centre. Spelt 'Yannu Wah' elsewhere by Skinner Prout. Refer Brown & Kolenberg (1986, cat. no.16 and p.78).

yanna wah

'Yanna Wah, Illawarra, N.S.W.', Museum of Mankind, British Museum, London. Cat. no.23.

'Female Native of New South Wales', Museum of Mankind, British Museum, London. Cat. no.24.

24 Female Native of New South Wales

Pencil, watercolour & chinese white highlights on paper

23.5 x 18.5

Museum of Mankind, British Museum, London

Signed 'J.S. Prout' lower left and inscribed 'NATIVE OF NEW SOUTH WALES / Female' lower right. Head and shoulders side profile of a seated Aboriginal woman. Refer Brown & Kolenberg (1986, cat. no. 17). This image was included in the watercolour Mount Keira, New South Wales (cat. no. 28) along with three other Illawarra Aborigines.

25 Fern & Cabbage Trees. Mount Keira. Illawara. NSW Jany 8.44

Pencil on paper

25.4 x 17.3

Art Gallery of New South Wales 113.1991

Sketch of foliage in the sub-tropical rainforest of the Mount Keira area west of Wollongong. This work is a study for the watercolours Mount Keira, New South Wales (cat nos. 26 & 27 below).

26 Mount Keira, New South Wales, 1844

Watercolour & chinese white highlights

40 x 30

Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, State Library of Tasmania, Hobart

Signed 'J.S. Prout 1844' lower left. View looking westerly along the mountain road towards Mount Keira, west of Wollongong, with the mountain towering above the landscape in the central background, and four Aboriginal figures camped by the roadside, along with a dog. Similar view to the watercolour Mount Keira, New South Wales (cat. no. 27). Refer Brown & Kolenberg (1986, cat. no.14). Skinner Prout used two spellings for the mountain, namely 'Kiera' & 'Keira', of which the latter is now preferred.

27 Mount Keira, New South Wales [c.1873]


36.7 x 26.6

Dixson Galleries, State Library of New South Wales, DGD16 f.12

Signed 'J.S. Prout' lower left. Inscribed with title on mount. No date. Similar view to Mount Keira, New South Wales, 1844 above, but with two male European figures on the road, as opposed to an Aboriginal party by the roadside. Subject of an engraving in Australia Illustrated (1873-76). Illustrated Painted Panorama (1985, p.57, colour).

28 Mount Kiera, New South Wales [1873-76]

Steel Engraving

18.4 x 21.4

After the watercolour Mount Keira, New South Wales (cat. no. 29). Published in Australia Illustrated (1873-76, opposite p.148). Engraved by A. Willmore.

29 Mount Kembla, Illawarra Jany 8th 44

Pencil & white

16.2 x 24.2

Dixson Library, State Library of New South Wales, DL PX49 f.4

Unfinished view of Mount Kembla, south-west of Wollongong, possibly taken from the north-east side of the mountain.

30 The northern beach, Wollongong, Jany 9, '44


19.1 x 30.3

National Library of Australia Pic R4420

Title from inscription bottom centre. Companion work to pencil sketch The Southern Beach looking towards Woolongong, Illawara Jany 5.44 described above. View looking north of the rocky cliff face located adjacent to Wollongong Harbour.

31 Aboriginal Camp by Tom Thumb's Lagoon 1844


38 x 58

Private collection

Signed and dated 'J.S. Prout 1844' lower left. View of an Aboriginal camp in Illawarra, possibly located by the edge of either Tom Thumbs Lagoon or Lake Illawarra. Elements of this view are similar to the Native Encampment watercolour and engraving described below (cat. nos.32-3), though the central and right section of this work is more open, with the lake/lagoon constituting the major part of the view. This was previously thought to be a view in Tasmania, however Brown & Kolenberg (1986) pointed out the fact that the native shelters (gunyahs) are typical of those from New South Wales and unlike the Tasmanian variety. Illustrated Sothebys (Melbourne, 22 October 1986, lot 49, colour) and Christies (Melbourne, 28 July 1991, lot 9, colour).

32 Native Encampment [c.1873]


26.7 x 38.1

Dixson Galleries, State Library of New South Wales, DG D16 f.5

Signed 'Skinner Prout' lower left. No date. Similar view to Aboriginal Camp by Tom Thumbs Lagoon 1844 above, however a mountainous escarpment is observed in the background, and the central and right portion of the picture is composed of a creek and adjacent bush. According to Brown & Kolenberg (1986), whilst the scene could well be near Mount Wellington, Hobart, the native huts are typical of those found in New South Wales and the mountainous escarpment is most likely that of Mount Keira. This work was reproduced as an engraving in Australia Illustrated (1873-76). Illustrated Brown & Kolenberg (1986, p.40) and Orchard et al. (1994).

33 Native Encampment [1873-76]

Steel Engraving

18.4 x 21.4

After the watercolour Native Encampment above (cat. no. 32). Published in Australia Illustrated (1873-76, opposite p.164). Engraved by C. Cousen.

34 Wollongong Harbour and the Illawarra Escarpment [c.1847]


27.2 x 42.3

Private collection, Tasmania

Signed 'J. Skinner Prout' lower left. Untitled and undated. View of Wollongong harbour taken from near the convict stockade on Flagstaff Hill, Wollongong Point, looking westerly towards Mount Keira (centre right) and Mount Kembla (far left). The original sketch for this work was most likely taken during the artist's visit to Illawarra in December 1843 - January 1844. According to Tony Brown (pers. comm.) the lithograph was most likely produced during the final stages of Prout's Tasmanian residency, around 1847. This highly animated work shows the activity of the port of Wollongong during the early 1840s, and the excavation works associated with the formation of a harbour basin (seen in the left centre of the picture). These works were carried out between 1837-44 by convict labourers under the supervision of soldiers from various British regiments such as the 28th and 40th. This panoramic lithograph is an important work in Wollongong history - it is rich in detail and records the development of the harbour at a time (1843-4) when the town was barely 10 years old and convicts still played a major role in its development. Refer Brown & Kolenberg (1986, p.80), where the work is therein tentatively titled 'Landscape, Tom Thumb's Lagoon area, New South Wales'.


Anon., Exhibition for the Society for the Promotion of the Fine Arts in Australia, Kemp and Fairfax, Sydney, 1847, 24p.

----, Catalogue of the Remaining Works of the late J. Skinner Prout....., Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 26-27 February 1877, 23p.

Bayley, W.A., Behind Broulee, Central South Coast, New South Wales, Eurobodalla Shire Council, Moruya, 1973.

Booth, E.C., Australia Illustrated, 2 volumes, Virtue & Co., London, 1873-76.

----, Early Sydney Engravings, (Facsimile reprint of sections of Australia Illustrated), Sydney Ure Smith, Sydney, 1975.

----, Australia in the 1870s, (Facsimile reprint of Australia Illustrated), Summit Books, Dee Why, 1976, 232p.

Brown, Joseph, Winter Exhibition, 1975, Recent Acquisitions, (Catalogue), Joseph Brown Gallery, Melbourne, 1975.

Brown, Tony, 'John Skinner Prout - A Colonial Artist', Art and Australia, vol.22, no.4, Winter, 1985, pp.516-22.

----, 'John Skinner Prout', in Joan Kerr (ed), Dictionary of Australian Artists to 1870, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1992.

Brown, Tony and Hendrik Kolenberg, Skinner Prout in Australia, 1840-48, Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery, Hobart, 1986, 80p.

Broxham, G. and I. Nicholson, Shipping Arrivals and Departures, Sydney, 1841-1844, Roebuck, Canberra, 1988, 483p.

Gray, Anne, 'Four Pictorial Icons of Place', Voices, National library of Australia, Winter 1991, 24-35.

Lindsay, Lionel, Conrad Martens, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1920. 

Lockett, R., Samuel Prout (1783-1852), Batsford & Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1985, 192p.

McDonald, Patrica, Painted Panorama, 1800-1870, Blaxland Gallery & State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, 1985, 144p.

McDonald, Patrica, Barry Pearce, and Richard Neville, The Artist and the Patron. Aspects of Colonial Art in New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1988, 187p.

Orchard, K., Organ, M. and Walsh, J., Illawarra: The Garden of New South Wales, (Exhibition catalogue), Wollongong City Gallery, 1994, 48p.

Pigott, Louis and Tony Brown, 'A colonial Hobart townscape by John Skinner Prout', The Australian Antique Collector, 47, Jan-June 1994, 77-79.

Ritchie, R., Seeing the Rainforests in Nineteenth Century Australia, Rainforest Publishing, Sydney, 1989.


In the compilation of this catalogue I would like to thank Tony Brown of Tasmania, whose original research is responsible for at least half of this catalogue; Hendrick Kolenberg of the Art Gallery of New South Wales; and Sylvia Carr of the Pictorial Section, National Library of Australia.

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