Conrad MARTENS, View of Sydney Harbour showing Sydney Cove Enlarge 1 /1


Crutched Friars, England 1801 – Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 1878

  • Australia from 1835

View of Sydney Harbour showing Sydney Cove [View of Sydney Harbour showing Sydney Cove] c.1850 Place made: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, oil on canvas on composition board

Dimensions: canvas 46.5 h x 65.0 w cm Board 49.5 h x 68.6 w cm
Acknowledgement: Rex Nan Kivell Collection: The National Gallery of Australia and the National Library of Australia
Accession No: NGA TEMP.11270

British artist Conrad Martens, who arrived in Sydney in 1835, is best known for his accomplished watercolours of early settlement around Sydney and Brisbane. Martens’s mastery of watercolour technique informs this luminous oil painting of Sydney Harbour. He has used oil paint to convey the atmospheric conditions of the sea and sky, and the subtlety of light and tone.

The view is from the north, most likely from Cremorne Point. Martens had settled with his family close by in St Leonards in 1844. Framed by a foreground of native bush, we look over the glistening harbour towards the settlement of Sydney Cove. The distant horizon of the ocean divides the picture, a light-filled sky adding to the beauty of the harbour. Some of the early landmarks of Sydney are visible in this work, including the spire of convict-architect Francis Greenway’s Church of St James (constructed in 1824), Government House and Fort Macquarie at Bennelong
Point (now the location of Sydney Opera House).

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra