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date: 20 August 2019

Watling, Thomas locked

(b Dumfries, Sept 19, 1762; d before after ?1810, 1814).
  • Robert Smith

Extract

(b Dumfries, Sept 19, 1762; d before after ?1810, 1814).

Australian painter and draughtsman of Scottish birth. He was a coach painter in Glasgow in 1788, and a trade card designed by him announcing drawing lessons at ‘Watling’s Academy’ was brought forward as evidence of his artistic abilities at his trial for forgery in Dumfries in 1789. He was sentenced to 14 years’ transportation, but escaped the convict ship at Cape Town; he was eventually recaptured, and arrived at Port Jackson, New South Wales, in 1792 ( see Australia §III ). He was assigned to surgeon-general John White, an ardent natural history collector, who required him to depict the local topography, inhabitants, flora and fauna, for example Turquoise Parrot (1792; London, BM). Watling aspired to paint picturesque views of the colony and drafted a prospectus soliciting patronage from the British public, but nothing came of the project. His landscape drawings reveal only rudimentary ability, and he professed disappointment with the pictorial potential of the country. His ...

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