Aboriginal Portraits | State Library of New South Wales

Aboriginal Portraits

It's almost impossible now to image the turbulence of our nation's birth. Even the longest lived among us can only recall Australians at war in other countries, never on our own soil. But turn the clock back to the early 1800s and the country was a very different place. Since 1788 when the first European settlers arrived, skirmishes between traditional owners and the new arrivals had been ongoing and bloody.

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Around the time Charles Rodius (1802-1860) captured these detailed portraits of Aboriginal chiefs and their wives, these clashes were at a peak. Yet, amid the racial conflict, Rodius was able to see Indigenous people from a unique perspective. "With extraordinary fidelity," as the Sydney Morning Herald wrote, he captured the natural beauty of these dignified men and woman during a major cultural transition. With a desire to present his subjects just as they were, Rodius is most noted for maintaining their humanity amid the conflict of early European settlement.

> Find other works by artist Charles Rodius, via the Library's online catalogue catalogue link


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