The Tank Stream, Sydney
John Skinner Prout
19 Dec 1805 - 29 Sep 1876
The original Tank Stream was early Sydney's main water supply. The stream ran from the western slopes of Hyde Park, forming a channel on the south side of King Street, crossing the site of Martin Place and the former General Post Office building and running by way of Ash, Pitt and Hamilton streets down to Sydney Cove. A plaque now in the footpath at the corner of Tank Stream Way and Bridge Street marks where the original Tank Stream flowed. Quoting Watkin Tench, a captain of the early colony's marines, it reads:
"Into the head of the cove, on which our establishment is fixed, runs a small stream of fresh water, which serves to divide the adjacent country to a little distance, in the direction of north and south".
The Gallery also has a smaller version or preliminary study of the subject, purchased at auction in Sydney in 1965; another version of 'The Tank Stream' is in the State Library of New South Wales, Dixson collection. A steel engraving by Thomas Heawood (active 1850-79) after Skinner Prout, is included in Edwin Carton Booth's 'Australia illustrated' (1873-76) opposite pg. 100.
excerpt from Hendrik Kolenberg, Anne Ryan and Patricia James, '19th century Australian watercolours, drawings & pastels in the Gallery's collection', Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2005
Old Pitt Street, Sydney
The tank stream, Pitt St., Sydney
pencil, watercolour, opaque white highlights
25.5 x 37.5 cm
Signature & date
Signed l.l. corner, brown watercolour "SKINNER PROUT -". Not dated.
Not on display
Shown in 7 exhibitions
One hundred years of Australian art, Exhibition Venue Unknown, 1945–1946
100 years of Australian painting (1948), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 19 Apr 1948–17 May 1948
John Skinner Prout in Australia (1986), Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart, 09 Nov 1986–01 Feb 1987
Skinner Prout in Australia 1840-48:
Harbour hymns, city songs: visions of Sydney from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 13 Jan 1990–11 Mar 1990
Nineteenth century Australian watercolours from the collection (1991), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 13 Apr 1991–07 Jul 1991
19th century Australian watercolours, drawings & pastels, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 06 Apr 2005–24 Jul 2005
Referenced in 14 publications
Tony Brown., Art and Australia (Vol. 22, No. 4), 'John Skinner Prout, a colonial artist', Sydney, 1985, 520 (illus.).
James Gleeson, Colonial painters, 1788-1880, Sydney, 1971.
Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Works on Paper', pg. 182-197, Sydney, 1999, 184 (colour illus.).
Lionel Lindsay, 150 years of Australian art, Sydney, 1938. cat.no. 678 [Gallery No. 6]; titled 'The tank stream, Pitt St., Sydney'.
Bernard Smith, 100 years of Australian painting, 'Foreword', pg. 2-4, Sydney, 1948, 12. watercolours cat.no. 1; titled 'Tank stream'
Sydney Ure Smith and Leon Gellert (Editors), Art in Australia [series 3, no. 8], Sydney, Jun 1924, (illus.).
Place, taste and tradition: A study of Australian art since 1788, Sydney, 1945, 85 (illus.). illus.no. 34; titled 'Old Pitt Street, Sydney'
Trustees of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales, One hundred years of Australian art, Sydney, circa 1945. cat.no. 4
William Splatt and Barbara Burton, 100 masterpieces of Australian painting, Adelaide, 1973, opposite pg. 14 (colour illus.).
Tank Stream: Sydney's first water supply, Sydney, circa 2004, (colour illus.). Six-page pamphlet produced by Sydney Water about the history of Sydney's Tank Stream.
Hendrik Kolenberg, Nineteenth century Australian watercolours from the collection, Sydney, 1991. cat.no. 60
Kay Vernon, Harbour hymns, city songs: visions of Sydney from the collection, Sydney, 1990. cat.no. 28
Skinner Prout in Australia 1840-48, Hobart, 1986, 26-27. cat.no. 7
Hendrik Kolenberg, Anne Ryan and Patricia James, 19th century Australian watercolours, drawing and pastels from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 2005, 40, 41 (colour illus.).