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Australian art

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View of Sydney Harbour



Conrad Martens

England, Australia

21 Mar 1801 - 21 Aug 1878


One of the most significant nineteenth century Australian artists, Conrad Martens was Sydney's pre-eminent landscape painter from his arrival in 1835 until his death, some forty years later. Born in London, he studied with Copley Fielding (1787-1855) and in 1833 joined the scientific survey expedition of the 'Beagle' in Montevideo, South America, replacing its ailing official artist Augustus Earle (1793-1838). The naturalist on board was Charles Darwin (1809-82); he and Martens became friends and later corresponded. Martens left the ship in Valparaiso in 1834 and made his way to Sydney via New Zealand.

Sydney Harbour and its environs became his favourite subject, obvious from his many drawings, watercolours and oils. Within a year of his arrival he also painted in the Illawarra and Blue Mountains, later travelling further afield to Brisbane and the Darling Downs, New England and Hunter regions of NSW. Martens attracted patrons from the colony's elite, undertaking commissions and taking students. In order to secure himself financially late in life, he became Deputy Parliamentary Librarian in 1862. This is one of 24 watercolours by him in the AGNSW's collection.

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




Media category


Materials used

watercolour, scraping out, gum


33.0 x 48.2 cm sheet; 47.0 x 61.3 cm sight edge; 52.6 x 66.9 x 2.7 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r., brown watercolour "C Martens/ 1836".


Gift of the Corry Family 1946


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Conrad Martens

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 4 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 2 publications


Hendrik Kolenberg, Anne Ryan and Patricia James, 19th century Australian watercolours, drawing and pastels from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 2005, 28, 29 (colour illus.).

Trustees of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australian watercolours from the National Art Gallery collection 1836 to 1946, Sydney, 1946, 3, 8. 1