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

TLF ID R3262

This is a watercolour measuring 15.8 cm x 24 cm showing the vast, yellowing Challicum plains with grassfires burning smokily in the distance. A flock of sheep is being watched by a shepherd and dog. The artist, Duncan Cooper, included this painting as the sixteenth watercolour in his field sketchbook and inscribed the title 'Panorama of Challicum, No. VIII' on its mount. The watercolour is the eighth 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 east-north-easterly aspect 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 an aversion to open plains like this, 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 illustrates a small flock of sheep - although this was a sheep-raising run, sheep appear only infrequently in this series of panoramas, indicating that the flocks were spread over a wide area, each under the control of one or two shepherds; before the invention of drawn and barbed wire, shepherds accompanied flocks of sheep constantly, tending and guarding them.
  • It features the sixteenth 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 eighth in a series of nine watercolours that, when viewed as a series, provide a cyclorama of Challicum and neighboring 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 east to encompass 066-105 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