Fascinated by the potential mineral wealth of the newly-discovered Terra Australis (Australia), the Admiralty sent Captain Matthew Flinders to follow elements of Captain James Cook’s map and to explore, particularly, the South Coast of the new continent – between what is now known as Albany and Melbourne. The artist accompanying the voyage in 1801 was the very young William Westall. This particular painting is typical of his developing lyrical style: a superb landscape painter, his particular strengths were his ability to show strange trees and vegetation, such as the snake which is shown in the foreground. The ship at anchor in the bay is HMS 'Investigator'.
Following the acclaim afforded to Hodges and Webber’s exhibition (the artists who accompanied Cook's voyages of discovery; their works can also be seen in this collection) of their Pacific and Australasian paintings, Westall also exhibited at the Royal Academy, to the delight of audiences still entranced by the exotic new lands shown in his paintings.
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Ministry of Defence
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More on this painting
commissioned by the Admiralty (Matthew Flinders Expedition)