Image 'Panorama of Challicum, No. VII', c1850

TLF ID R3261

This is a watercolour measuring 15.7 cm x 24.4 cm, showing a mounted man herding a small group of cows past scattered native bush and trees, beneath the backdrop of the Mount Cole ranges. The artist, Duncan Cooper, included this painting as the fifteenth watercolour in his field sketchbook and inscribed the title 'Panorama of Challicum, No. VII' on its mount. The watercolour is the seventh of nine panoramas which together form a cyclorama of the Challicum area.



Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset depicts a squatting run (illegally occupied Crown land) called Challicum near Fiery Creek, 130 kilometres north-west of Geelong and 12.8 kilometres south-west of Mount Cole in Victoria - as virtually no comprehensive pictorial records were kept by squatters, this watercolour offers a unique historical illustration of the area around a squatting run in the 1850s.
  • It illustrates the north-eastern view of Challicum, a squatting run occupied by brothers George and Harry Thomson and their partner Duncan Cooper.
  • It shows an area of land that the Thomson brothers and Cooper gained possession of by purchasing a flock of sheep from Alexander and Colin Campbell - squatting runs were unable to be sold since they were not freehold land and, according to the custom of the time, occupation of land came as part of the sale of the sheep; many squatters had a aversion to open plains like those shown in the foreground, preferring hillier country in the belief that it was more suitable for sheep.
  • It shows a squatting run in an area outside the Nineteen Counties (the Counties were the only areas in the Colony of New South Wales that had been surveyed and where it was legal to buy land); Victoria was part of NSW until 1851; in 1835 grazing licences to manage squatting were introduced at a fee of £10 each (a considerable sum in 1835), but were difficult to enforce; in response to demands by squatters for more secure tenure, the 1847 Orders in Council allowed a 'holder' the right to purchase a homestead area with a pastoral licence for adjoining land in the settled districts (the Nineteen Counties) and provided for pastoral leases with terms up to 8 years in intermediate districts and 14 years in unsettled districts.
  • It shows cows grazing on Challicum around 1850 - runs such as Challicum had no fences and cattle grazed freely, with stockmen rounding them up when necessary; these cows were probably milkers and so were brought in to be milked every day; without milking cows, the people on a run had no source of fresh milk, cream or butter.
  • It illustrates a mounted man, possibly a shepherd doubling as a stockman, wearing long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and a hat - before the invention of drawn and barbed wire, cattle grazed freely while shepherds accompanied flocks of sheep constantly, tending and guarding them.
  • It features the fifteenth watercolour in Duncan Cooper's field album, a visual record of the early squatting years in Victoria - Cooper (c1813-1904) named the album 'The Challicum sketchbook' and described it as 'a collection of drawings made at Challicum, Fiery Creek, Victoria, Australia, from my first settlement there, January 1st, 1842 till 1853'; the album, measuring 26.5 cm x 37 cm and containing 34 paintings, is a prized item in the collection of the National Library of Australia.
  • It shows the seventh in a series of nine watercolours that, when viewed as a series, provide a cyclorama of Challicum and neighbouring squatting runs as they were around 1850 - a cyclorama is a cylindrical painting designed to provide a viewer, standing in the middle of the cylinder, with a 360-degree view and this cyclorama is unique in Australia's squatting history; Cooper began his cyclorama facing approximately south-south-east and for this watercolour had turned to face north-east to encompass 026-065 degrees.
  • It reveals the strengths and weaknesses of Cooper's abilities as an artist - while he was skilled in rendering topographical, landscape, botanical and building detail, he was less skilled in portraying the human figure, horses, cattle and sheep; Cooper generally presents these at a considerable distance; in his will Cooper describes his portfolio of work as being of 'no monetary value, being amateur work'.
Year level

F; 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12

Learning area
  • history;
  • studies of society and environment
Strand
  • Studies of society and environment/Time, continuity and change
  • History/Historical knowledge and understandings

Other details

Contributors
  • Content provider
  • Copyright holder
  • Organisation: National Library of Australia
  • Remarks: Reproduced courtesy of National Library of Australia
  • Author
  • Name: Duncan Cooper
  • Remarks: artist
  • Publisher
  • Date of contribution: 30 Aug 2013
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia
  • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
  • URL: http://www.esa.edu.au/
Access profile
  • Device independence
  • Hearing independence
Learning resource type
  • Image
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Rights
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and National Library of Australia, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements