View across the coastal plain

Frederick GARLING: artist

Not On Display

About the work

Garling's reputation stands principally on his being a marine artist, and he is said to have painted every ship that came into Sydney Harbour for forty years.

His employment in the Customs Department meant that he was constantly concerned with shipping and this interest, allied with his gift for drawing, resulted in a valuable record of life in the port.

Born in London, he was taken to Sydney as a child by his father in 1814 and, an entirely self-taught painter, developed his skill mainly in watercolour.

In 1826 he was appointed official artist for Captain James Stirling's expedition to explore the Swan River in Western Australia in the following year and this view was probably painted from close to where the party had to halt when it became impossible to navigate the river any farther. The loneliness of the expanse of plain is emphasised by the tiny figures and the colour and clear sky suggest the time of summer.

Garling's watercolours have more effect of atmosphere than the purely topographical paintings of that period and his work is attractive and technically skilful. He exhibited frequently and was a member of the Committee of the Society for the Promotion of Fine Arts in Australia when it was founded in Sydney in 1847.

Ella Fry, Gallery Images, St George Books, Perth, 1984
View across the coastal plain
Artist/Maker and role
Frederick GARLING: artist
watercolour and pencil on paper
13.2 x 37.5 cm (sheet)
Credit line
Purchased, 1978
The State Art Collection, The Art Gallery of Western Australia
Accession number

This is one of the watercolours in our collection.