George Edwards Peacock | State Library of New South Wales

George Edwards Peacock

George Edwards Peacock (1806–?) had originally trained as a lawyer, however when he was transported to Sydney for forgery he turned to painting to improve his straitened circumstances. Marked as a 'gentleman' convict, he worked as a meteorological recorder at the South Head weather station. It was probably here that he developed his love for Sydney Harbour and its diversity of moods. In the 1840s he began painting professionally.

His oils, generally small and atmospheric, concentrated on Sydney Harbour and the exclusive private villas along its foreshores. His paintings of Darling Point and environs feature Glenrock, the residence of Thomas Smith which was built in 1836, as well as views of Sir Thomas Mitchell's house Carthona and Thomas Sutcliffe Mort's Gothic villa Greenoaks.

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With their precise detail enlivened by artistic effect, his exquisite paintings give a romanticism to Sydney and its harbour. The Sydney Morning Herald described his work as "carefully painted, exhibiting extreme fidelity to nature, as well as skill in miniature handling and high finish" (SMH, 2 June 1849).

In subject-matter his work resembles that of his Sydney contemporary Conrad Martens who was giving lessons in Sydney at the time Peacock began to paint. Peacock, like Martens, had a keen interest in meteorology and, also like Martens, made many views of, or from, his patron's residences. Many colonists employed both artists.

The Library has an extensive collection of George Edwards Peacock paintings, which featured in the Library's Picture Gallery exhibition in 2002.