Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Aboriginal canoes communicating with Monarch and the Tom Tough

Aboriginal canoes communicating with Monarch and the Tom Tough, 28 August 1855
John Thomas Baines (1868)
" The artist took part in A.C. Gregory's expedition to North Australia, to record its activities in drawings and watercolours. This oil painting, produced later, shows Aborigines in a boat approaching the confronting European boat during their expedition in the Gulf of Carpentaria, south of Prince of Wales Island, on 28 August 1855. The Aborigines, wearing body paint, are portrayed in their canoe which dominates the picture. Four men paddle the canoe towards the stern of the schooner 'Tom Tough', commanded by Captain Gourlay, whilst the man at the front of the boat holds out his arms in preparation to catch a line being tossed by a sailor. The Aborigine in the centre of the craft holds a bow and rope in his right hand. With his left hand he proffers a gift. Behind him on the canoe is a small fire and a seated Aborigine playing a didgeridoo, and behind him two more men are also paddling. This canoe is followed by another craft and land can be seen in the far distance to the left. The stern of the 'Tom Tough' is lined with sailors looking at the occupants of the canoe and there is also a woman on board. The barque 'Monarch' can be seen on the horizon to the left of the painting, with several canoes. "

National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, England.