Rare Books & Special Collections

title-page-2Dedicated to The Right Honourable Earl Bathurst, His Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for the Colonial Department, Views in Australia… was Lycett’s first attempt to give the British public an impression of the grandeur and beauty of Australia.  With a particular focus on New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land, it comprised fifty stunning colour plates, each one, according to the book’s advertisement, an absolute facsimile of the scenes and places visited and drawn by Lycett.

Joseph Lycett was born c1774 in Staffordshire, England.  Although he worked as a professional portrait painter and miniaturist, he was convicted in 1811 of forgery and transported to Australia for a term of 14 years.  He arrived in Sydney in 1814 where, somewhat ironically, he was employed as a clerk in the police office.  Just 15 months into the job, Lycett was again convicted of forgery, when the office was flooded with skilfully forged 5-shilling bills.  They were traced back to Lycett, who had in his possession a small copper-plate press.  He was sent to the penal colony of Newcastle where his work as a legitimate artist attracted the attention of Commandant James Wallis, who had captained the ‘General Hewitt’, upon which Lycett had originally sailed to Australia.  At Wallis’ request, Lycett drew up the plans for a church which was built in 1818. He then painted the altar piece and likely also the window which still survives in the bishop’s vestry of Newcastle Cathedral.  On Wallis’ recommendation, Lycett received a conditional pardon.  An absolute pardon followed in 1821, possibly a reward for three of his drawings that Governor Lachlan Macquarie sent to Lord Bathurst, Secretary of State for the Colonies, in England.

north-view-sydney-2In 1822 Lycett departed for England where he set about producing a book of Australian landscapes.  Two years later, the London publisher, John Souter, issued the first of Lycett’s Views in Australia.  There were to be twelve monthly parts, each with two aquatint views of New South Wales and two of Tasmania with descriptive letterpress.[1]  There was also a supplement which contained maps of both colonies.  The coloured parts to the series were sold for 10 shillings, 6 pence, whilst the uncoloured parts were sold for 7 shillings.  Although the first six plates were lithographs, Lycett and his London publisher soon realised that aquatint would be better and they were re-issued as such with later plates produced in the same medium.  When all of the parts were completed they were bound together and sold as Views in Australia (1824-25).

Though he spent eight years in Australia, just how widely Lycett travelled is debateable; it’s possible he didn’t even make it to Tasmania.  In her 1992 biography, Jeanette Hoorn suggests that Lycett based much of the Views’ text on W. C. Wentworth’s 1819 Statistical, historical, and political description of the colony of New South Wales and its dependent settlements in Van Diemen’s Land [2].  Its pictures also appear to rely heavily upon the works of others, the Tasmanian plates corresponding to the places that Governor Macquarie visited in his 1821 trip with explorer and artist George William Evans.  Certainly, the watercolours that he completed whilst in the colony had a more realistic style, closely resembling those of his fellows.  Landscapes that he added back in England, however, had a much more romantic feel.   In many ways, they failed to truly capture the character of the Australian landscape, assuming what, at the time, was a more acceptable English parkland look.  Nevertheless, his works were elegant and had a certain charm that appealed to contemporary taste.

mount-wellington-2The majority of the plates in Views in Australia are landscapes, with a number of them depicting colonial settlements too.  Country estates also feature regularly, along with important landmarks such as Government House.  Some of the most impressive illustrations include the township of Sydney, which Lycett describes as being “built on the extremity of a cove” and which he considered to be “one of the safest in the world’; the view of Botany Bay as taken from the south side of Cook’s River; the township of Parramatta, the south end of which he described as a “delightful spot” which was originally called Rose Hill; the “wild, yet grand” River Wingee Carribbee; the view of Hobart Town; the “magnificent” Mount Wellington; and Cape Pillar, a promontory which was considered “an excellent sea-mark for ships sailing to this remote part of the world”.  He went on to describe its peculiar shape which could scarcely be mistaken, for there was “no other object in any respect similar to it” and how it acquired its name because the rock beared a resemblance to the pillars of a gothic cathedral.

parramatta-2Rare Books & Special Collections is fortunate to hold two copies of Views in Australia.  One was bequeathed to the library by Sir Samuel Way in December 1925, the other by Christine Margaret Macgregor in May 1974.  Although bound differently, both begin with a dedication to Lord Bathurst, followed by Lycett’s “Advertisement” on the purpose and format of the book, and finally his 15-page account of “the discovery, foundation and present state of the colonies”.  Here, he discusses their climate, seasons, soil fertility, population and animal and vegetable production.  Both copies contain 25 colour plates of New South Wales and 25 colour plates of Van Diemen’s Land.

Views in Australia is available for viewing in Rare Books & Special Collections at SR/E 919.4 L98


Posted in Book of the Month
Comments Off on Views in Australia, or, New South Wales & Van Diemen’s Land delineated: in fifty views with descriptive letter press by Joseph Lycett (1824-1825)

From November 4th 2017 direct access to Rare Books & Special Collections will not be possible due to the refurbishment of Level 1 of the Barr Smith Library.

For the month of November there will be no access to the collection and retrieval of items for use will not be possible.

From December we will have temporary researcher accommodation on Level 2 of the Library during the refurbishment works and access will be by appointment through requests, email and phone.

Should you need access to Special Collections material during this time, please contact us via:
Email: library_special@adelaide.edu.au
Phone: (08) 8313 5224
or place a request for specific items through Library Search.

We will do our best to respond to your requests as soon as possible.


Posted in Barr Smith Library
Comments Off on Temporary Relocation of Special Collections

cranach-2On 31 October 1517 the German Augustinian monk, Martin Luther, attached his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. Luther’s objections to church doctrine and practices, relating especially to the sale of indulgences, sparked the Protestant Reformation and instigated social and political change on a global scale.

Luther’s belief that Scripture alone is the sole authority for Christian belief and practice, and therefore that salvation is dependent on faith alone because of Christ’s sacrifice, emphasised the value of the word of God and the need for the word to be available to people in their own language.

Luther’s reforms spread rapidly through Europe, and also influenced the colonisation of South Australia and its German immigrants. The recording of Aboriginal languages by German missionaries in order to spread the word of God through the vernacular acted to keep languages alive and establish new traditions of Aboriginal song.

This exhibition will explore the importance of the word, its transmission through the new technology of printing, and its interpretation through images and song.

On display in the Rare Books & Special Collections foyer from the 16th October – 29th October 2017 during Library opening hours and then in the Barr Smith Library Reading Room (level 2) from the 30th October – 30 November 2017.

Posted in Exhibitions
Comments Off on Exhibition: Word, Image, Song: Celebrating 500 years of Luther’s Reformation

[Description of skin diseases: Observed at Saint-Louis Hospital: and exposure of the best methods followed for their treatment by J. L. Alibert] A massive tome of some 51 x 40 cm with 55 colour plates, Description des maladies de la peau… is Jean-Louis Marc Alibert’s masterpiece on diseases of the skin.  Originally published in 1806, […]

Posted in Uncategorized
Comments Off on Description des maladies de la peau: Observées à l’Hôpital Saint-Louis by Jean-Louis-Marc Alibert (1825)

For the last 18 months we have been undergoing a project to digitise the personal and research papers of Harry and Honor Maude. Henry (Harry) Evans Maude (1906-2006) was a civil servant and anthropologist who spent eighteen years working in the Pacific Islands. Between 1929 and 1948 Maude served as District Officer, Native Title Lands […]

Posted in Manuscripts and Collections, Uncategorized | Tagged , , ,
Comments Off on The Maude Digitisation Project

Written for his son Grenville and published on a monthly basis in MacMillan’s Magazine between August 1862 and March 1863, Charles Kingsley’s The water-babies… is one of the most unusual children’s fables.  Intended as a satire in support of Charles Darwin’s On the origin of species, it delves into some of the naturalist’s preoccupations at […]

Posted in Book of the Month
Comments Off on The water-babies: A fairy tale for a land-baby. Charles Kingsley (1885)

Born in North Adelaide, Fiveash was first taught art by Miss Annie Bentham, a painter of birds and flowers, and later studied at the Adelaide School of Art and Design from 1881 to 1888, specialising in the painting of Australian flora. Despite the lack of formal recognition during her lifetime, Rosa Fiveash is regarded as […]

Posted in Barr Smith Library, Exhibitions, Stories, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,
Comments Off on The Orchid paintings of Rosa Fiveash

It’s easy to fall for the charms of this little book. It has been described as timeless, a ‘tour de force’, a remarkable achievement, and “an original and significant contribution to twentieth-century Australian art and print culture.”[1] It also occupies a monumental place in Australian publishing history, being the first example of coloured woodblock printing […]

Posted in Book of the Month
Comments Off on Night Fall in the Ti-Tree. Woodcuts by Geraldine Rede and Violet Teague. Verses by Violet Teague. 1905

Bookbinding is a humble pursuit. Rarely does it receive the attention and glamour afforded to other ancient crafts.  Unlike the silversmith or the glassblower, whose talents are immediately obvious, the binder’s craft of construction is largely concealed.  Durability and function are foremost in the bookbinder’s mind; theirs is a role of guardianship – they serve […]

Posted in Exhibitions
Comments Off on Exhibition: Cover to Cover: Exposing the Bookbinder’s Ancient Craft

A massive tome of some 1630 pages, The herball, or Generall historie of plantes was first published in 1597. Essentially, a gigantic plant catalogue, it documented more than 1,000 species, many accompanied by hand-coloured illustrations. It brought John Gerard instant fame and remained highly esteemed for the next 200 years. Generally considered to be the […]

Posted in Book of the Month
Comments Off on The herball, or Generall historie of plantes. Gathered by John Gerarde…; Very much enlarged and amended by T. Johnson. 1636