Conrad Martens

Australia, b.1801, d.1878

Sydney from the North Shore

  • Estate of Mrs S. M. Lewis in memory of her husband, Leslie James Lewis
  • Hand-coloured lithograph
  • 237 x 490mm
  • 69/625
  • 1843
  • View on google maps

In the 1840s Sydney was a vital centre for Pacific shipping and trade, including New Zealand-based whaling ventures, many Sydney-owned and with Māori in their international crews. Ships delivering oil and whalebone to Sydney were restocked there with fresh crew and supplies.

Conrad Martens left England in 1832 to travel the world. The following year he became artist on board the HMS Beagle with Captain Robert FitzRoy and Charles Darwin, joining the ship from Montevideo, Uruguay. He left the Beagle at Valparaíso, Chile in November 1834, and travelled to Sydney via Tahiti and the Bay of Islands, arriving in 1835.

Sydney became Martens’ permanent home. He started there profitably as a landscape painter and responded to an economic depression in the early 1840s by producing an edition of fine lithographs of Sydney from the North Shore. These were printed in London and hand-coloured by the artist in Sydney. (Kā Honoka, 18 December 2015 – 28 August 2016)