Artists

Artists have always been attracted to the natural beauty of Sydney Harbour and its foreshores. Darling Point particularly, with its natural beauty and impressive villas, was a popular subject for both artists and photographers alike.

A number of Darling Point residents had their own private art collections which they opened to the public on regular occasions. Thomas Sutcliffe Mort had a fine collection of around 120 watercolours, as well as sculpture and old English armoury, which were housed in a purpose-built gallery designed by Edmund Blacket as part of additions to Greenoaks in 1858. Thomas Ware Smart also had a very attractive picture gallery attached to his home, Mona, which contained a superb collection of European oil paintings. Both galleries were open to the public.

Picture Gallery, Greenoaks

Picture Gallery, Greenoaks, ca. 1890s, by unknown artist
albumen photograph. PXD 993/88

'These art treasures were collected not so much for the adornment of a noble mansion, or indeed in any respect for selfish ostentations display, as for the purpose of entertaining and improving the tastes of (their) fellow colonists...' it was reported at the time.

Colonial artists Conrad Martens and George Edwards Peacock were enthusiastic painters of the Harbour, and were closely associated with Darling Point in their depictions of its picturesque scenery and houses.

Conrad Martens (1801–1878) began giving private lessons to Darling Point residents, including Mrs Thomas Sutcliffe Mort, in the late 1840s, making the journey to Darling Point regularly. As he could not resist sketching wherever he went, his own drawings during that period make an excellent sequence documenting this beautiful part of Sydney.

George Edwards Peacock (1806–?) began selling his works in the 1840s. His oils, generally small and atmospheric, concentrated on Sydney Harbour and the exclusive private villas along its foreshores. With their precise detail enlivened by artistic effect, his paintings gave a romanticism to the landscape.

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