State Library Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 88 December 2011


Alison Inglis, Fiona Moore and Pamela Tuckett
"The Auspicious Commencement of so Grand a Design": the opening of the Museum of Art at the Melbourne Public Library, 24 May 1861

The Year 1861 was one that saw significant social and economic changes take place in Melbourne. Against a backdrop of a vital and developing metropolis, this year also witnessed the opening of a new Museum of Art on the ground floor of the everexpanding Public Library. From this small but promising beginning would grow the National Gallery of Victoria, universally acknowledged as a 'major institution and force in the cultural life of Australia'.1
The history of the new Museum of Art's earliest years and the reasons why it was established within the Melbourne Public Library have received considerable scholarly attention.2 And on one point all the various writers are in agreement, namely, that the person bearing the greatest responsibility for shaping the vision of the new art museum, as well as overseeing the minute detail of its creation, was Sir Redmond Barry (1813-1880) the remarkable 'Maecenas of Victoria . . . the great patron of the arts' and the senior trustee of the Public Library.3
In this latter role, Barry had planned the initial selection of European works of art for the museum, and in correspondence with the former colonist and Library trustee, Hugh Childers (1827-1896), now a Member of Parliament in London, directed him in arranging their purchase and shipping.4 Barry also supervised the unpacking, restoration and installation of the first sculptural works following their arrival in Melbourne, on the ground floor of the Public Library. Finally and fittingly, it was Barry who delivered the official address to his Excellency Sir Henry Barkly, K.C.B., Governor of Victoria (1815-1898), at the opening of the new Museum of Art on 24 May 1861. Sir Henry, in turn, made a succinct but gracious reply that endorsed Barry's stated ambitions for the art collection and ended by 'congratulating the trustees on the auspicious commencement of so grand a design . . . [and] formally declar[ing] the Museum of Art open to the public'.5
The complete text of Barry's address and Sir Henry Barkly's response was published in its entirety the following day in the daily Melbourne Age and Argus newspapers, while extracts even appeared in the provincial and inter-colonial press.6 The importance of the speeches was clearly recognised, primarily as a celebration of the opening of the new museum, but also for their articulation of the early role and future vision of the public art collection, and lastly for their forceful endorsement of further government spending on the Public Library. Barry had already given a very detailed account of the Museum
of Art and its intended first purchases in an earlier public address, at the opening of the Queen's Reading Room on 24 May 1859, when he announced:
The trustees rejoice to be able to say, also that within the last year they have been enabled to extend their operations, by commencing the establishment of the Museum, and enlisting an auxiliary element of refinement.
The sum of £2,000, voted by Parliament for that purpose, has been remitted to England, for the purchase of casts of some of the choicest statues, busts, and altorelievos by the most celebrated sculptors; of coins, medals, and gems – the useful handmaidens of history as well as of decorative adornment; and representations of remarkable architectural objects of Europe and elsewhere, taken by the process of photography.
These when received, will be placed in the hall and chambers on the ground-floor.7
Not surprisingly, it has been this 1859 address by Barry that is frequently quoted in subsequent histories of the institution, while the texts accompanying the actual opening of the Museum of Art in 1861 are less well known. However, the 150th anniversary celebrations of the National Gallery of Victoria in 2011 have returned the spotlight to the commencement event, with the Age newspaper publishing on 25 May 2011 a replica of the original page from the Age of 25 May 1861 that included the full texts of Sir Redmond Barry's address and Sir Henry Barkly's response.8
This essay will revisit the opening of the new Museum of Art in 1861 and consider some of the details of the speeches delivered on that day. It will provide a context for key passages in the texts relating to the establishment of the art collection within the library, and throw fresh light on some of the leading figures of the day involved in the historic event. Sir Redmond Barry has received his fair share of scrutiny, but what of the role of Sir Henry Barkly, the Governor of the colony? Likewise, recently discovered documents have revealed that other less prominent individuals, such as the local artist Thomas Clark (1813-1883) and the public servant, Joseph Anderson Panton (1831-1913), also played a small but noteworthy part in the selection and acquisition of the Museum's first collections, as will be discussed below.

An Art Museum within a Library

One of the most striking features of Barry's address at the 1861 official opening is the relatively limited space accorded to the new Museum of Art within his overall speech. Of the two and a half columns of newspaper allocated to reproducing his text, only the last half column is actually devoted to the new museum itself;9 the majority by far of Barry's words (and enthusiasm) focus instead on the progress of the Library – the number of books purchased and donated, the large number of visitors and the success of the 'Circulation Department' – since the opening of the Queen's Reading Room in 1859. Nothing could bring home more forcefully the reality of the museum's position within the colony's Public Library. This was not an autonomous department; rather, the art museum emerged from and directly reinforced the Library's pre-eminent position in Victoria's cultural and educational life – or to quote Sir Henry Barkly's reply at the time,

Vestibule of the Public Library, Melbourne, 1863

Wood engraving, Australian News for Home Readers, 21 October 1863.

as 'the central source of intellectual development for the province at large'.10
In fact, the suggestion that a museum of art should be created within the Library complex can be traced back to the first official opening of the building in 1856, when Sir Redmond Barry included within his address the observation that 'the entrance hall' would be 'well adapted for a museum, or for the reception of statuary or works of art'.11 Of course, this alignment of works of literature with works of art followed the practice of many great collections in Europe.12 The Melbourne Trustees would have looked to institutions like the British Museum (containing the British Library as well as cultural and scientific collections) for a suitable model.13 As Richard Overell has noted, the intention behind the Melbourne Public Library 'was to instruct the scholar, the practical artisan and the ordinary colonist, and the cultural framework was of course British'.14
An appreciation for the 'Fine Arts' was therefore evident in the earliest book purchases for the new library.15 In Barry's detailed instructions sent to the London Agent-General in December 1853, he specified the inclusion of books with 'the best illustrations of the celebrated productions of Art', as well as art historical classics such as Sir Joshua Reynolds' Lectures and Vasari's Lives of the Painters, Sculptors and Architects.16 Three years later, Barry went to some lengths to obtain John Gould's seven-volume Birds of Australia (with the five part supplement) for the princely sum of £145, a purchase that epitomized the Library's vision of bringing together literature, art and science in one interconnected whole.17
On the 24 May 1859, the Library building was extended by the addition of an

Joseph Anderson Panton's inscribed copy of D. Brucciani, Prices of Casts from Ancient Marbles, Bronzes, etc. in the British Museum, [1857], Joseph Anderson Panton Papers, MS 10071, Australian Manuscripts Collection.

elegant first floor reading room. As Barry wrote to Childers at the time: 'The new wing of the Library is to be opened by Sir Henry Barkly on the Queen's Birthday. The upper room is really very handsome ... [i]t will be christened the Victoria Room' – though in fact it became known as the Queen's Reading Room.18 As we have seen, the installation of the Museum of Art directly beneath this new reading room two years later, on the south side of the ground floor, was regarded as a logical progression in the linking of literature with fine art that already existed, in published form, on the library shelves.
As the Catalogue of the Melbourne Public Library for 1861 makes clear, the 'Fine Arts' book section was rapidly expanding in theoretical and practical directions, with new publications on colour and perspective, sculpture, painting, drawing, engravings and photography.19
A description of the Museum on the ground floor, (also called the 'Fine Art Room'), was given in the 1861 Catalogue. Measuring '55 feet by 50', the room was designed so as to reflect the ornamental and decorative elements present in the casts on display, while the colour scheme enhanced their visual impact:
. . . the walls, which are without architectural features have (as an experiment,) been painted of a delicate light purplish grey, and have been divided into panels by lines and ornamental corners of a darker tint of the same colours. The ceiling is divided into deep panels of a light grey colour, the beams of a stone colour; the whole is decorated with Greek ornament, of the leaf and scroll pattern ... It is worthy of remark that the tint adopted for the walls gives a pleasing tone and a roundness and animation to the casts.20
The immediate popularity of the Museum of Art was highlighted by the high attendance figures – with over 26,000 visitors viewing the gallery in a period of only five months after it had been established.21 This figure is all the more impressive when one considers that the entire population of the state of Victoria in 1861 was 540,323 people.22 The success of the Museum also ensured its steady growth, and less than a decade later, the Library complex would house not only the Museum of Art, but also a School of Painting headed up by Eugène von Guérard (1811-1901) and a School of Design led by Thomas Clark. In response to these developments, on 29 December 1869, The Library, Museums and National Gallery Act was passed by the government of Victoria, with the formal appointment of a Board of Trustees to oversee all aspects of the institution, while the Museum of Art was renamed the National Gallery of Victoria.23
Significantly, great importance was placed on locating the colony's cultural bodies together – Library, Art Gallery and Museums (Science and Technological) – under one vast roof. As the Trustees' emphasised in their Report of 1870-71:
[T]he proximity of various objects would, as it was considered, attract to them an observation more prolonged and instructive than that bestowed during visits to isolated buildings in which they might be dispersed, and would create and promote a sympathy between the different branches of Literature, Science and Art, the continuity of which would not be so adequately maintained were the illustrations deposited in different places.24

The First Cast Collection and the London Committee

In his address at the 1861 opening of the Museum of Art, Barry described the works of art on display in simple terms as 'casts of some of the best known works of antiquity', while he dwelled at some length (and slightly defensively) on the fact that:
it was necessary to send to Europe for the objects which form the collection. . . . The selection required much discrimination, the execution of the orders much
care and attention. The mere transit of the instructions and of the objects occupied many months. Under these circumstances then, the trustees may be absolved from the charges of having caused any unnecessary delay or unreasonably disappointed public expectation.25
Modern scholars, especially Ann Galbally, have investigated the elaborate transactions involved in acquiring these early works of art, as set out in the surviving correspondence between Barry, Childers and the London agent, Robert Edmond Chester Waters (1828-1898), who oversaw the purchasing. Barry had emphasized to Childers, in a series of letters in May 1859 that 'none but the most admirable illustrations of high ancient and modern classic art' would be acceptable, and warned against commercial companies like 'the Crystal Palace . . . they [have] got inferior casts . . . which do not represent the originals'.26 He also urged action in pursuing these suitable works, commenting once: 'For Heaven's sake make your Committee do something besides dining together. . . '.27
The Committee to whom he refers so impatiently was the group of London-based ex-colonials, elsewhere described as 'Gentlemen connected with this country, interested in its social advancement, disposed to exert themselves kindly and energetically' in acquiring the cast collection.28 Making up their impressive ranks were 'Mr Latrobe, Sir Wm ABeckett, Mr Justice Williams, Mr Westgarth, Mr H. Moore, Mr Dunedin, Mr Foster, Mr Griffith, Mr Wilson, Mr Panton, Captn Clarke R.E.',29 and from the evidence of later correspondence with the London agent, Waters, it appears that they did not always follow Barry's instructions to the letter. For instance, on 26 October 1860, Waters reported on the Committee's activities, noting that its members had
resolved to abandon the attempt to form such a classification [i.e. of casts into historical periods from antiquity to modern] as that suggested in the letter of Mr Justice Barry, it being the opinion of the meeting that the design could not be carried out without exclusion ... of works of which the absence could hardly fail to create both surprise and disappointment among the community for which the collection was intended . . .'30
Waters continued apologetically: 'I therefore found the Committee already fixed in a certain course inconsistent with the instructions and pledged to a certain order to Mr Brucciani'.31 He is referring, of course, to Domenico Brucciani (1815-1880), a famous member of the Brucciani family of specialist cast makers who had been operating in London since 1824.32 Highly regarded in his field, Brucciani supplied casts to the British Museum and the South Kensington Museum and Barry had already mentioned his name to Childers in an earlier letter in April 1859, as 'a good man from whom to get busts, casts of statues and similar objects'.33
The London Committee's order of casts from Brucciani proved to be substantial, requiring the works to be packed in two separate shipments. The first, numbering '37 cases containing 99 casts of statues and busts and a model pedestal for the same . . . all hav[ing] been executed by D. Brucciani', was shipped by Waters to Melbourne on the 'Kronprizen' in June 1860. The second part of the order, comprising further casts of

First Reading-Room, Public Library, Melbourne, 1862

Wood engraving by Samuel Calvert, Illustrated Melbourne Post, 30 August 1862.

statues, busts and 'slabs' (of friezes) was shipped before the end of August 1860, with the overall amount paid to Brucciani plus transport costs totalling £802.9.2.34 The recent discovery of an 1857 Brucciani catalogue entitled Prices of Casts from Ancient Marbles, Bronzes, etc. in The British Museum, in the Joseph Anderson Panton papers in the State Library of Victoria, provides new insights into the London Committee's modifications to Barry and the Trustees' collecting policy.35 Joseph Anderson Panton (1831-1913) was a member of the London Committee and his independent approach is clearly conveyed by the proud inscription on the front cover of the Brucciani catalogue: 'I (selected and) purchased the first casts for the Melbourne Public Library / J A Panton'.36
A former senior commissioner on the Bendigo Goldfields, Panton was in fact well qualified to undertake these purchases. He had organized Bendigo's contribution to the 1854 Melbourne Exhibition, while his life-long interest in art had led him to return to Europe in 1858, to study in the Parisian atelier of the landscapist, H. F. Nazon.37 The notations in the Brucciani catalogue show Panton bringing an artist's eye to the selection – he focused on the Elgin Marbles (the exemplar of the classical tradition for British art students), choosing famous figures (Theseus, Ilissus, the Fates and the Horse's Head) and ten sections of the Parthenon frieze; as well as a small group of Roman statues and busts (Venus, the Rondinini Faun, Trajan, Nero, Julius Caesar and Demosthenes).38 Absent however, was the historical dimension that the Trustees had requested, and which Sir Redmond Barry had publicly announced in his 1859 address on the opening of the Queen's Reading Room: . . it is proposed to adopt the plan of illustrating the historic development of art, commencing with a few of the most striking productions of Ninevah, Egypt and Etruria; to proceed through Grecian schools, and those of early medieval and later Italian eras, to modern times'.39 Panton simply ignored the extensive listing of casts from the British Museum's Egyptian and Assyrian collections, leaving those sections of his Brucciani catalogue blank.
Other purchases by the Committee were more in line with the Trustees' intentions. The surviving Catalogue and Account Book of the Museum of Art reveals the identity of these casts – ranging from Temple of Apollo friezes and the Apollo Belvedere to works by three Renaissance Masters (Ghiberti, Michelangelo and Fiamingo) and four 'moderns' (Flaxman, Canova, Thorwaldson and Gibson) – but a coherent historical survey was not achieved.40 When the casts eventually arrived in Melbourne, a disappointed Barry wrote to Waters expressing his 'regret that the original instructions to the Committee have been so far departed from by that body . . . in their selection for purchases'.41 But such concerns were dwarfed by the greater disaster that had overtaken the casts en route to the colonies, for when unwrapped only a few were found to have survived the voyage without damage. As Barry famously reported to Childers: 'our museum looks at present like a field of battle, such is the mutilation'.42 Fortunately, however, the swift and successful repair of all the broken casts provided a positive example of colonial ingenuity which Barry deliberately emphasized in his opening address: 'casts of some of the best known works of antiquity have been procured. They arrived here much mutilated by injuries received on the voyage, but the skill and patient labour of Mr Summers (himself an accomplished sculptor), has wrought a complete restoration'.43
Thus, in spite of the disobedience of the London Committee as well as the extensive breakages sustained in transit, Barry could write to Childers after the opening and reassure him of the satisfactory outcome: 'We only had the statues and busts to show but they have attracted attention as you may imagine for the number of visitors during the month has been 4,700'.44

Thomas Clark and the School of Design

Joseph Panton and the London Committee were not the only individuals attempting to reshape the Trustees' wishes with respect to the first collection of the Melbourne Museum of Art. A letter dated 15 July 1859 has recently come to light in the archive of the National Gallery of London, written by the colonial artist, Thomas Clark to his friend, Ralph Nicholson Wornum (1812-1877), the Keeper of the National Gallery, in which Clark discusses the Melbourne Trustees' plan for the art collection and seeks to influence its direction.45
The opening paragraph of the letter reveals that Clark had already been advising the Trustees on the proposed Museum of Art:
My Dear Wornum,
The Govt. here applied to me to know how I should recommend them to lay out 2000 pounds in art. I suggested that it was desirable to begin a collection by purchasing plaster works of art but . . . I cautioned them that it was necessary to leave the matter in the hands of a competent artist & said you were the only person in England acquainted with the wants of a new people . . . I understand they have placed the matter in your hands . . . I think it better to inform you . . . their object is to begin a collection with which they can commence a School.46
It is understandable that the Trustees should have consulted Clark on this matter. He was one of the few professional artists in the colony whose abilities had been confirmed by various awards from the Royal Academy in London.47 He also had an extensive background in art teaching, having been appointed headmaster of the School of Design in Birmingham between 1846-1851.48 He continued this career in Victoria, being advertised as the Master of the School of Design at the short-lived Victorian Society of Fine Arts, in 1856.49 Clark's credentials as an adviser to the Trustees were thus impressive, and his influence can be detected in their early decisions regarding appropriate experts to contact in London. Certainly Barry mentioned 'Mr Wornum of Marlborough House' to Childers several times, adding he was 'a person likely to save you much trouble' in procuring the casts.50
Wornum, indeed, was an authority on the use of casts in teaching. Before becoming Keeper at London's National Gallery in 1854, he had lectured on ornamental art at the Schools of Design.51 He was then appointed librarian and keeper of casts at the new museum established at Marlborough House under the autocratic leadership of Henry Cole, Superintendent of the Department of Practical Art (and later Director of the South Kensington Museum).52 Cole's implementation of a more systematized art curriculum aligned perfectly with Wornum's own scholarly analysis that placed ornament into historical categories, and resulted in him publishing one of the key texts of the South Kensington system of art training, his Analysis of Ornament, in 1856.53
Thus in writing to Wornum, Clark hoped to be brought up to date on current teaching practices in London, especially with respect to the display of casts, and also to position himself as the best candidate for the role of headmaster in any future School of
Design in Melbourne:
If a School is started it is possible I may be consulted upon the most desirable plan & therefore I shall be glad of any advice you will give me or any recommendation you can give them with regard to me. . . If you will furnish me with any Catalogue (if there is one) descriptions of the antiques that I may fix on the pedestals as it may be left to me I shall feel greatly obliged . . .54
In one passage in the letter, Clark does reveal himself to be quite out of touch with recent innovations in art and design training; and that was in respect to the proposed photographic purchases, which he dismissed out of hand:
I am informed that the Trustees of the Public Library . . . have desired the [sum of] 500 [pounds] may be expended in photograph [sic] this I hope you will not agree to as it is merely to please one architect55 who has been consulting but please to let us have the orders (the small ones) that are published in Paris & in most of the Schools of Design. I gave the Trustees a list but you know much better than me what is required.
Clark was familiar with the more conventional idea of displaying casts of statues alongside replicas of architectural orders and other forms of ornamental decoration for the instruction of designers, craftsmen and art students. But by the 1850s and 1860s in London, plaster casts were not the only mode of reproduction employed in the Schools of Design and Marlborough House (which became the nucleus of the South Kensington Museum). The original art historical and ornamental works were now juxtaposed with numerous reproductive examples – not simply plaster casts of sculpture and decorative reliefs but also photographs, electrotypes, fictile ivories, prints and painted copies. Moreover, these works were not viewed in isolation but were intended to directly complement each other – as Malcolm Baker has shown, photographs were placed alongside casts to illustrate the setting of the original, as in the display of a cast of Michelangelo's David in 1862 at South Kensington, where a photograph of the original statue in situ was attached to the plinth.56
Clark's lobbying of Wornum to disregard the Trustees' request for photographs revealed his ignorance of this new progressive use of reproductions, and a wider failure to recognize the conceptual consistency of the Trustees' initial purchasing policy. The sum of £500 was allocated not only for photographs but also for 'the purchase of Photographs Medals Coins and Gems'; and this group of reproductions reinforced the other categories: £500 for 'busts and casts of statues' and £500 for 'alto and bas reliefs and miscellaneous objects' – all making up a 'reproductive continuum' within the new Museum of Art. Clark's attempt to intervene in this matter can only be judged a retrograde step.57
In fact, Clark's letter to Wornum in July 1859 was not only out of step, it also proved ultimately of little consequence. For while Sir Redmond Barry had recommended Wornum to Childers as early as 14 May 1859 (writing 'we propose to you to employ Mr Wornum, of Marlboro House, to carry out the details if you like him and he will act'),58 in subsequent letters Wornum's name appears less frequently and he clearly never
played the decisive role in determining acquisitions that Clark had envisaged; instead this position was filled by Waters. Furthermore, in promoting Wornum as the Trustees' London advisor, Clark also had sought to sideline Henry Cole – claiming in his letter to Wornum: 'They [the Trustees] did intend to apply to [Henry] Cole but you may be sure I did all I could to prevent his having a finger in the matter'.59 Again, Clark's efforts were in vain for on 26 October 1860, Waters wrote to Barry, informing him:
I have been to the Kensington Museum several times ... and have received much assistance from Mr Cole CB the Superintendant and Mr Redgrave RA: with their assistance I have made a list of the objects most suitable for your purpose . . . The selections consists of Electrotyph [sic] reproductions in metal . . . [and] photographs . . .60
It was these reproductive works – as well as Waters' purchases of Arundel Society prints, publications and 'fictile imitations of ivory carvings'61 – that failed to arrive in time to be included in the opening display on 24 May 1861.62 As Barry noted with regret in his address:
What you have seen forms but a small part of what the collection will be – the remainder, which has not yet arrived, consists of objects of equal interest. It embraces, moreover, many remarkable illustrations of works of artistic excellence, which the ingenuity and felicity of modern scientific invention have multiplied to lend their charms to those denied the opportunity of dwelling on the sublime originals.63
Where does this leave Thomas Clark? Obviously his broader recommendations for the cast collection had guided the early thinking of the Trustees, but his subsequent attempts to advance Ralph Wornum and influence the selection of works proved unsuccessful. More importantly, at the centre of Clark's letter to Wornum had been the frank admission, 'I now hope the Govt. are about to endeavour to help artists, if not our position will be miserable . . .'.64 Accordingly, Clark must have been dismayed by the absence of any reference to 'artists' and 'art training' in Barry's opening address in 1861.
Barry did, at least, mention the 'school of design', describing it as 'the primary idea' behind the trustees' decision to form the Museum of Art. He also expanded on the civilizing effects of this initiative – its role in 'moulding the public taste' and 'creating . . . an appreciation of what was correct and the beautiful'.65 But it was only in Sir Henry Barkly's reply to Barry that we find a more specific account of the practical gains that would emerge from introducing 'good casts of the most celebrated statues and bassirelievi of ancient and modern time', early in the colony's development. As Barkly affirmed: 'it is the first step . . . towards the establishment of a school of design, in which future artificers and manufacturers of Victoria may be imbued with purity of taste and correct principles of beauty. Its enjoyment, however, will extend to all classes and all ages . . .'. More significantly the Governor also declared: 'I most earnestly trust that the gallery of sculpture about to be thrown open may be destined to form the foundation of a museum of the fine arts suited alike to the wants and the resources of the Australian continent.'66

Sir Henry Barkly and the Fine Arts

Sir Henry Barkly's strong endorsement of a future 'museum of fine arts' may seem unexpected to those who associate his Governorship (1856-1863) more readily with scientific endeavours, such as his role as founder and President of the Royal Society of Victoria, and his active support of the Acclimatization Society and National Observatory.67 His contemporaries also acknowledged him for having 'patronized and encouraged horticulture and botany in our colonies'.68 But Sir Henry proved to be an equally willing champion of artistic activities during his time in Victoria, with a keen interest in the potential for art to improve design in manufacturing. As he stated at the opening of the Victoria Industrial Society annual exhibition in 1858:
I shall ever be ready to co-operate, to the best of my ability, in promoting the development of the industrial resources of the colony, and in encouraging the cultivation of a taste for Art in the various branches of its local manufactures.69
Likewise, practicing artists resident in Victoria received the Governor's enthusiastic patronage. One of his first public engagements, in fact, upon arriving in the colony in December 1856, was to visit (with a heavily pregnant Lady Barkly) the Victorian Exhibition of Art, which displayed works by both European and colonial artists (including Nicholas Chevalier, William Strutt, von Guérard and the sculptor, Summers). As the Argus later reported, the Barklys went directly to the colonial works, where they 'commenced a careful and critical examination of every picture' and concluded that the exhibition 'afforded much promise for the future'.70
Amateur artists themselves – Lady Barkly executed paintings in oil while Sir Henry enjoyed sketching landscape71 – the Barklys were especially impressed by the work of von Guérard, whose depictions of the Western District appeared in several exhibitions that year. Sir Henry would later commission the artist to produce a series of sixteen pen and ink 'presentation drawings' of views of Victoria as a 'souvenir' of his Governorship in the colony.72 Christine Downer has, in fact, observed that Sir Henry's assumption of the 'role of patron in art and science' was in part following in the footsteps of 'his predecessor, Charles Joseph La Trobe', and certainly Barkly may have known of La Trobe's earlier commission of a series of drawings of his property 'Jolimont' from the artist Edward La Trobe Bateman (1815-1897).73 Nevertheless, Barkly's commitment to education, the arts and science can be traced back to the commencement of his career, such as, in Guiana, his promotion of a Board of Education and his efforts to ensure that colony was represented at the 1851 Great Exhibition; or in Jamaica, his 'reviv[al] almost single-handed [of] the local Society of Arts'.74
Sir Henry's interest in scientific innovation also ensured his fascination with the new art of photography. From the evidence of his surviving photographic album (dated 1858-1877),75 he is shown to have purchased a large number of works by the colonial photographer Richard Daintree, including 16 of the famous 56 images published as Sun Pictures of Victoria (produced in 1856 in collaboration with Antoine Fauchery). Christine Downer's study of the album lists other works by Daintree of geological subjects, gold
mining scenes, evidence of colonial progress like Jackson's Creek viaduct and 'two views of Toorak House, then the Governor's residence in Melbourne'.76 Barkly's enthusiasm for photography is equally reflected in his willingness to allow local companies like Batchelder & O'Neill, Batchelder & Co. and Cox and Luckin to produce photographic portraits of himself, his wife and official residence.76 Thus he would clearly have endorsed the Public Library Trustees' early substantial purchases of photographic works for the new Museum of Art.
The photographic images of the Governor in turn generated further portraits in other media – such as Henry Burn's lithograph of Sir Henry Barkly KCB Captain General and Governor in Chief of the Colony of Victoria (c.1857), which was drawn by the artist 'from a daguerrotype'.78 Indeed, one might argue that Barkly's direct patronage of artists both major and minor,79 and his more general encouragement of the intellectual and cultural life of the colony was mirrored in the unprecedented number of portraits of him produced by local artists.80 By far the most important works in this genre were Thomas Clark's full-length depiction of the Governor standing in the gardens of Toorak House, and Charles Summers' life size marble bust, both dated 1864 and commissioned to commemorate Barkly's term as Governor.81 The decision to execute two rather than one portrait reflected the mood of intense civic gratitude prompted by the announcement of his departure in 1863.82 Interestingly, Sir Henry selected Clark to paint his portrait, and although the artist only had time for two sittings before his subject took sail, the grand finished composition was the most ambitious example of state portraiture the colony had yet seen.83
Appropriately, the Summers' bust of Sir Henry was presented by the Government of Victoria to the Public Library in 1865, where it was installed with the other works of sculpture (original and reproduction, ancient and modern) acquired during the period of his governorship. The portrait of Sir Henry by Thomas Clark, likewise, was displayed in the Museum of Art in 1865 alongside the recent group of modern European paintings acquired by the Trustees.84 These purchases were the direct result of the Victorian Commission on the Fine Arts, established in 1863 during Barkly's term of office and only two years after the Museum of Art's opening. Its purpose was no less than 'the promotion of the Fine Arts in this our said Colony, and . . . a scheme for the formation, conduct and management of a Public Museum or Museums, Gallery or Galleries, and a School of Art'.85
Undeniably, Sir Henry's sincere belief, expressed in his speech of 1861, that the Government would continue to provide funds for the Public Library and Museum of Art's much needed expansion – for 'to cramp so noble an institution by withholding the few thousands necessary for its completion . . . must, I am confident, strike all who really have the welfare of the people at heart as poor economy'86 – had been proven resoundingly correct. Similarly his hope for a future 'museum of fine arts' was well underway by the time of his departure from the colony. In all, his concluding words at the opening of the fledgling Museum of Art had proven to be prophetic: it was a very 'auspicious commencement of so grand a design'.


J. Burke, 'Foreword', in L. Cox, The National Gallery of Victoria 1861 to 1968: a search for a collection, Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, [1970?], p. xi.


See, E. La Touche Armstrong, The Book of the Public Library, Museums and National Gallery of Victoria, 1856-1906, Melbourne: Trustees of the Public Library, Museums and National Gallery, 1906; A. Galbally, 'The Lost Museum, Redmond Barry and the Musée des Copies', Australian Journal of Art, vol. vii, 1988, pp. 29-50; A. Galbally, and A. Inglis, The First Collections: the Public Library and the National Gallery of Victoria in the 1850s and 1860s, Parkville, Vic.: University Gallery, the University of Melbourne Museum of Art, 1992; K. M. Fennessy, 'For "Love of Art": the Museum of Art and the Picture Gallery at the Melbourne Public Library 1860-1870', La Trobe Journal, no. 75, Autumn 2005, pp. 5-20.


C. Aspinall, Three Years in Melbourne, 1862, quoted in A. Galbally, 'Patron of the Arts at the Antipodes', La Trobe Journal, no. 73, Autumn 2004, p. 5.


S. Burt, 'Library Trustees at Work: letters from Barry to Childers 1859-60', La Trobe Journal, no. 73, Autumn 2004, pp. 75-94.


Address of the Trustees of the Melbourne Public Library, presented to his Excellency Sir Henry Barkly, K.C.B., Governor-in-Chief of the Colony of Victoria, on the opening of the Museum of Art, on Friday May 24th, 1861, being the Birth Day of Her Most Gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria; with his Excellency's Reply, Melbourne: Public Library Trustees, 1861, np.


'Opening of the Art Room at the Public Library', Age, 25 May 1861, 'Opening of the Museum of Art in the Public Library', Argus, 25 May 1861, p. 5; 'Museum of Art', Ballarat Star, 27 May 1861, p. 15; 'Public Library Melbourne', Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser, 3 June 1861, p. 3; 'Victoria', Brisbane Courier, 10 June 1861, p. 3.


'The Public Library: Opening of New Wing', Argus, 25 May 1859, p. 6.


'Opening of the Art Room at the Public Library', Age, 25 May 2011, p. 10. At the bottom of the replica of the 25 May 1861 page was written: 'From a room in a library to a Melbourne icon, The Age congratulates the NGV on 150 years'.


It should be noted that the Argus reversed the order of proceedings in its publication of the speeches, placing Sir Henry Barkly's response before Sir Redmond Barry's address.


Barkly, in Address of the Trustees... to his Excellency Sir Henry Barkly, May 24th, 1861, np.


Sir Redmond Barry in, Address Presented by the Trustees to His Excellency Major-General Macarthur, Acting Governor, at the Opening of the Library, 11 February, 1856, cited in La Trobe Journal, no. 72, Spring, 2003, p. 17.


For a discussion of the models that influenced the development of the Public Library and Museum of Art, see Galbally and Inglis, The First Collections, pp. 9-10.


A. Galbally, Redmond Barry, an Anglo-Irish Australia, Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 1995, p. 96.


Richard Overell, 'Introduction', in Early Book Purchases in the Melbourne Public Library: Redmond Barry's instructions to the Agent-General, December 3rd 1853, Clayton, Vic.: Ancora Press, 1997, p. vi


Galbally and Inglis, The First Collections, p. 101.


Sir Redmond Barry quoted in Early Book Purchases in the Melbourne Public Library, p. v.


Galbally, Redmond Barry, p. 97


Alexander Sutherland, Victoria and its Metropolis, Past and Present, Melbourne: McCarron, Bird and Co., 1888, vol. 1, p. 389.


A full listing of art books is in The Catalogue of the Melbourne Public Library for 1861, Melbourne: Melbourne Public Library Trustees, 1861, p. iii.


The Catalogue of the Melbourne Public Library for 1861, p. ix


Ibid. The exact attendance figure listed in the catalogue is 26,003, p. x.


Census of 1861 – Distribution of the Population, Victorian Government Gazette, 23 July 1861(112), pp. 1403-6.


Library, Museums and National Gallery Act, Victorian Government Gazette, 31 December 1869 (published as a supplement), pp. 245-47.


Report of the Trustees of the Public Library, Museum and National Gallery of Victoria, 1870-71, quoted in Galbally and Inglis, The First Collections, p. 7


Sir Redmond Barry, in Address of the Trustees ... to his Excellency Sir Henry Barkly, May 24th, 1861, 1861, np.


Barry to Childers, 14 May 1859, quoted Galbally, 'The Lost Museum', p. 35.




Burt, 'Library Trustees at Work', p. 86.




Waters to Barry, quoted Galbally, 'The Lost Museum', p. 37.




Francis Haskell and Penny Nicholas, Taste and the Antique, the Lure of Classical Sculpture 1500-1900, London: Yale University Press, 1981, p. 117.


Barry to Childers, 15 April 1859, quoted Galbally, 'The Lost Museum', p. 35.


Waters to Barry, 26 October 1860, quoted Galbally, 'The Lost Museum', p. 36.


Joseph Anderson Panton Papers, MS 10071, MSB 142, Australian Manuscripts Collection, State Library of Victoria. The authors would like to thank Gerard Hayes, Pictures Collection, State Library of Victoria, for drawing this catalogue to their attention.


Joseph Anderson Panton Papers.


For the details of Panton's career as public servant and artist, see the entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography (ADB) on-line ( and the Design and Art Australia on line (


For the significance of the Elgin Marbles for Victorian artists, see R. P. Asleson, 'Classic into Modern: the inspiration of antiquity in English painting, 1864-1918', PhD Thesis, 1993, UMI Dissertation Information Service, 1999, pp. 167-197.


Address of the Trustees of the Melbourne Public Library, Presented to the Governor-in -Chief Sir Henry Barkly KCB ..., Melbourne: Trustees of the Melbourne Public Library, 1859, p. 2.


'Catalogue and Account Book of the Museum of Art', nd, pp. 1-16. This book, documenting the acquisition of works of art for the Museum of Art, is held in the Registration Department of the National Gallery of Victoria. The authors would like to thank Janine Bofill, Head Registrar, the National Gallery of Victoria for her generous assistance in providing access to the Museum of Art/National Gallery of Victoria Stock-Books.


Waters to Barry, 26 October 1860, quoting Barry's letter of 25 August 1860, in Galbally, 'The Lost Museum', p. 36.


Galbally, 'The Lost Museum', p. 38.


Sir Redmond Barry, in Address of the Trustees ... to his Excellency Sir Henry Barkly, May 24th, 1861, np. For sculptor, Charles Summers see ADB online: A list compiled on 9 February 1861 by a Lloyd's agent in Melbourne gave details of the damage to friezes, statues and busts, and a market value given for insurance purposes (see VPRS 1074/P7/35, Miscellaneous Reports, Catalogues, Lists, Statutes, University Accounts etc. 1862-1875).


Barry Papers, MS 8380, Box 599, 1 (b), State Library of Victoria; Letter, Barry to Childers, nd. [written after the official opening of the Museum of Art]. Barry sent 'a few copies of the address by Gov. Barkly on opening the Museum of Art' with the letter.


National Gallery Archives, London, NGA2/4/2/37. Pamela Tuckett would like to thank Nicholas Donaldson of the National Gallery London Archives for notification of the existence of this letter.




VPRS 903/P144/69/20885: Letter, Thomas Clark to Secretary, Board of Education, Victoria, 7 November 1869; and VPRS 1074/P5: Applications for Drawing Master, Thomas Clark to The Trustees of the Public Library, 2 July 1870. Awards to a 'Mr T. Clarke' from the Royal Academy London were listed in the Art Union in 1846. See 'Royal Academy, The Distribution of Medals', Art Union, January 1846, p. 12.


Galbally notes 'Clark was said to have been director of the Nottingham School of Arts before he was appointed anatomical draftsman at King's College, London, in 1843 . . . In December 1846, at his own request, Clark was also appointed drawing-master at the King Edward's School of Design'. See A. Galbally, 'Clark, Thomas (1814-1883)', ADB online


Victorian Society of Fine Arts and John Shillinglaw, Prospectus for the Victorian Society of Fine Arts' School of Design, Melbourne: [?], 1857 [?]. Clark was to have taught 'Free-hand Drawing from Copies & Models; Geometrical Perspective, Architectural; the Human figure and Modelling', the modelling being three dimensional building and casting.


Barry Papers, MS 8380, Box 599, 1 (b) Letter, Barry to Childers, 24 April 1860, SLV.


Dictionary of Art Historians, 'Ralph Nicholson Wornum',


For the careers of Cole and Wornum, see S. Macdonald, The History and Philosophy of Art Education, London: University of London Press, 1970, pp. 129-142, 157-199, 241-44.


Its full title was, Analysis of Ornament, the Characteristics of Styles: an introduction to the study of the history of ornamental art, being an outline of sixteen lectures on the subject, originally prepared for the Government School of Design in the Years 1848, 1849, 1850, London: Chapman and Hall, 1856. Macdonald claims it had 'as much influence on the teaching of aspiring designers in the Schools of Art as Jones' Grammar of Ornament' (see History and Philosophy, p. 244). The State Library of Victoria holds a copy, as well as three other texts by Wornum, all listed in the Fine Art section of the Library's 1865 catalogue.


National Gallery Archives, London, NGA2/4/2/37.


The identity of the architect is not given, but it could be Joseph Reed, the architect of the Public Library or William Wilkinson Wardell, who was later appointed to the Fine Arts Commission in 1863.


M. Baker, 'The Reproductive Continuum: plaster casts, paper mosaics and photographs as complementary modes of reproduction in the nineteenth-century museum', in R. Frederiksen and E. Marchand, eds, Plaster Casts: making, collecting and displaying from Classical Antiquity to the Present, Berlin: De Gruyter, 2010, pp. 487, 494-95.


Clark's attitude is curious, as he himself was a practicing photographer. See M. Robinson, Thomas Clark (1814-1883) Artist and Educator, Conference Paper, the Joint Conference of Australia and New Zealand and British History of Education Societies, Swansea, November 2002.


Quoted Burt, 'Library Trustees at Work', p. 81. Barry added 'He [Wornum] must be paid I suppose which will encroach on our small funds but that outlay may save us immensely besides we get the advantage of his acquaintance with the subject'.


National Gallery Archives, London, NGA2/4/2/37. Wornum and Cole had clashed publicly before Cole was appointed Superintendent of the Department of Practical Art in 1852; see Macdonald, History and Philosophy of Art Education, pp. 138-139.


Waters to Barry, quoted Galbally, 'The Lost Museum', p. 37.




For an enthusiastic review of these 'invaluable' reproductions following their installation in the Museum of Art later in the year, see Argus, 9 November 1861, p. 4.


Writing to Childers, soon after the event, Barry mentioned the arrival of the vessel, Flying Cloud, with further works for the Museum of Art, including stereoscopic views and some seals, but obviously too late for the opening. See Barry Papers, MS 8380, Box 599, 1 (b), State Library of Victoria, Letter, Barry to Childers, written after the official opening of the Museum of Art.


National Gallery Archives, London, NGA2/4/2/37.


Barry, in Address of the Trustees ... to his Excellency Sir Henry Barkly, May 24th, 1861.


Sir Henry Barkly, cited in Address of the Trustees ... to his Excellency Sir Henry Barkly, May 24th, 1861.


D. McCaughey, N. Perkins and A. Trumble, Victoria's Colonial Governors 1839-1900, Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 1993, pp. 93-98.


Barkly's efforts in sending botanical specimens to Kew during his terms of office in Guiana, Jamaica, Victoria and Mauritius, eventually would 'earn him an F. R. S. [Fellow of the Royal Society]', see M. Macmillan, Sir Henry Barkly, Mediator and Moderator 1815-1898, Cape Town: A. A. Balkema, 1970, p. 35.


Sir Henry Barkly, 'Reply' to 'Address presented to his Excellency Sir Henry Barkly, KCB, on the opening of the eighth exhibition of the Society, February 11, 1858', Victoria Industrial Society, Catalogue of the Eighth Annual Exhibition of Manufactures, Produce, Machinery and Fine Arts, Melbourne: Victoria Industrial Society, 1858, p. viii.


Argus, 5 January 1857, quoted M. Hancock, Colonial Consorts: the wives of Victoria's governors 1839-1900, Carlton, Vic.: The Meigunyah Press, Melbourne University Press, 2001, p. 52.


Macmillan quotes a contemporary account of the Barklys touring Jamaica: '. . . H. E. [His Excellency] at once brought his pencil into requisition and sketched the enchanting scenery ... Nor was Sir Henry Barkly . . . the only devotee of art, fairer fingers had a pencil too.' Macmillan comments: 'In fact, Lady Barkly may have been the better artist of the two. Two oil-paintings by her of . . . Highgate, the Governor's hill residence, hang in the Institute of Jamaica, and are something more than amateur efforts'. Macmillan, Sir Henry Barkly, pp. 71-72.


Tim Bonyhady, Australian Colonial Paintings in the Australian National Gallery, South Melbourne, Vic.: Oxford University Press, 1986, p. 179, note 44.


C. Downer, 'Images of Empire: Sir Henry Barkly's Photographic Album, 1858-1877', La Trobe Journal, no. 62, Spring 1998, p. 39. For this earlier vice-regal commission, see H. Botham, La Trobe's Jolimont: a walk around my garden, Melbourne: C. J. La Trobe Society & Australian Garden History Society, 2006.


See Macmillan, Sir Henry Barkly, pp. 29-33, 112.


Album compiled by Sir Henry Barkly during his time as Governor of Victoria, Mauritius, Cape Province (South Africa) after his retirement to England in 1877, (c. 1858-c.1877), H92, 101/1-107, Pictures Collection, State Library of Victoria.


Downer, 'Images of Empire', p. 39.


Sir Henry Barkly's first wife, Elizabeth, Lady Barkly, tragically died in Melbourne in 1857. It is his second wife, Annie, whom he married in 1860, who appears in the work of colonial photographers. See Hancock, Colonial Consorts, p. 60.


P. Reynolds, 'A Note on Henry Burn, 1807?-1884', La Trobe Library Journal, no. 11, April 1973, pp. 52, 58.


For example, see Henry Short's letter to Sir Henry Barkly, dated 16 April 1862, describing his painting, Our Adopted Country, 'in memory of the lamented heores of the Victorian Expedition, 1861, and asking him to take shares in the Art Union formed to sell the painting. Sir Henry agreed to take two shares. C. Downer, 'The Language of Flowers: Henry Short's Our Adopted Country, La Trobe Journal, no. 30, Spring 1998, pp. 19-20.


Thomas Clark, Sir Henry Barkly, G G. M. G., K. C. B., Governor of Victoria, 1864 oil on canvas, H2003.55, Pictures Collection, State Library of Victoria; Charles Summers, Sir Henry Barkly, 1864, white marble, LTS 4, Pictures Collection, State Library of Victoria.


Various portraits of Barkly were produced by Frederick Grosse, Samuel Calvert, John Botterill among others. See the Pictures Collection Catalogue of State Library of Victoria for a more complete listing.


See Macmillan, Sir Henry Barkly, p. 136.


For differing opinions of the portrait's success, see Argus, 18 May 1864; Melbourne Punch, 12 January 1865.


It is now on permanent display in the Red Rotunda Room off the Cowen Gallery in the State Library.


Second Progress Report of the Commission on the Fine Arts quoted in Philippa Murray, The NGV Story: A Celebration of 150 Years, Melbourne, Trustees of the National Gallery of Victoria, 2011, p. 11.


Sir Henry Barkly, cited in Address of the Trustees ... to his Excellency Sir Henry Barkly, May 24th, 1861.