State Library Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 57 Autumn 1996


S. T. Gill's ‘Avengers’
the Gill-Clarke-Mason-Atkinson connection

The many invaluable drawings and watercolours of nineteenth century Australian artist S. T. Gill (1818–1880) cover four decades of sharp social observation and skilled draughtsmanship. Now dispersed through Australian galleries and private collections they are famous, amongst other riches, for their affectionately humorous and sympathetic portrayal of Aboriginal life. Through decades of evolving cruel caricature by other artists, Gill's works are notable for their happy depiction of good relationships between blacks and whites — or sharp satire at white expense. So it is not surprising that the rare commentary1 that exists on S. T. Gill's uncharacteristic drawings, ‘The Avengers’ and one or two associated drawings of the late 1850s, consistently remarks their abrupt departure from this benign attitude. This paper offers an historical account of this puzzle. Why do these drawings suddenly show hostility between black and white? What occasions their new representation of violence, imminent or achieved?
Gill's drawing, ‘The Avengers’, originating certainly in the late 1850s, survives in several versions and at least two contemporary reproductions whose original is not extant. An original drawing, pencil on scraper board, is held by the National Library of Australia (Plate 1), and a watercolour, undated, with signature at lower left and titled ‘The Avengers’ at lower right in Gill's hand, is held by the National Gallery of Victoria — this is dated as late as 1871 and is clearly a reworking by Gill of earlier work (Plate 2). A tinted lithograph produced by Petrer & Galpin of London and titled ‘The Avengers’ incorporates the familiar ‘S. T. G.’ signature at bottom left and is reproduced facing p. 40 of Edward Wilson's Rambles at the Antipodes (1859) (Plate 3).
In the introduction and notes to his fine edition of Dr Doyle's Sketches in Australia,2 Sasha Grishin draws attention to these versions mentioning also ‘an earlier lithograph’ which I do not know. The ‘Avengers’ version in Grishin's Dr Doyle's Sketches in Australia (Plate 4) was part of Gill's ‘ghost work’ for amateur watercolourist, popular lecturer and self-promoter, J. T. Doyle.3 While some of Gill's ‘Doyle’ works do in fact originate with sketches by Doyle variously ‘worked up’ and enriched by Gill, many are actually reworkings by Gill of his own earlier originals. This is certainly the case with the Doyle version of ‘Avengers’, as my account of the drawings' history will show.
All known versions of ‘The Avengers’ show two or three white colonist settlers about to surprise and take presumable ‘vengeance’ upon a group of Aborigines peacefully at rest about their evening campfire. All but the reversed Petrer and Galpin London engraving show the avengers at foreground left and the blacks about their campfire in the middle distance, right. All versions show the avengers, guns at the ready, alert to their unsuspecting quarry, the blacks disposed innocently, even dreamily, about their distant fire. A relatively muted sign of Gill's pervasive vernacular irony occurs in the blasted tree stump, unfailing signature of European invasion — and a common Gill signature as well — behind which the avengers take vantage.
All versions present the active murderous intent of the whites in stark contrast to the peaceful innocence of the blacks, though some suggest a slight hesitation in the

Plate 1: ‘The Avengers’, original drawing, pencil on scraperboard, 12.7 x 20.5 cm. (Reproduced courtesy the National Library of Australia)

avengers as the campfire scene opens to their view. Thus, while the active alertness of the avengers is central to the drama, the drawing's moral comment sides strongly with the Aboriginal innocence. And it could even be argued that Gill, unable to bring himself to show a scene of violence against blacks (he never did), is here pleased to allow the campfire scene to seem to arrest and stay the guns. Certainly, the force of these drawings lies in that ambiguous moment of silent, technologically superior threat, of white men dangerously armed at the same time as they are morally disarmed. But in all versions the threat is ‘real’ and the unyielding title, ‘Avengers’, consistent, though not one of the drawings gives any visible sign of a reason for the imminent white vengeance. The title seems a mystery.
So these works, all sharing basic compositional features, mood and attitude, are true versions of the same original. All present a wide angled, open country scene, the two or three white ‘avengers’ taking scant cover behind their tree stump but in small danger of being noticed by the preoccupied Aborigines. Most Gill drawings of the Australian countryside offer such open views with a horizontal composition and framing sympathetic to open plains and wide skies. The artist seems mostly, not always, to reserve a vertical structuring for indoor or street scenes and for covers and titles.
As already seen, those scraps of commentary that exist on Gill's ‘Avengers’ concentrate on its sudden departure from a rich lifelong œeuvre invariably depicting friendly relations between blacks and whites. The single exception to this benign history might be the late work, ‘Horrock's First Interview with Hostile Blacks’4 (1868) (Plate 5). This watercolour recounts an experience Gill shared long before with ill-fated South Australian explorer, John Ainsworth Horrocks, whose 1846 expedition toward

Plate 2 (above): ‘The Avengers’, watercolour, c1871. (Reproduced courtesy the National Gallery of Victoria)

Plate 3 (right): ‘The Avengers’, tinted lithograph in Edward Wilson's Rambles at the Antipodes (London: Petrer & Galpin 1859). (Reproduced courtesy the National Library of Australia)

Plate 4 (below): ‘The Avengers’, watercolour, Dr Doyle's Sketches of Australia (Plate 4). (Reproduced courtesy Mitchell Library)

the Flinders Range the young Gill had joined as working artist. It shows blacks about to defend their land against the exploring intruders. However, this drawing concentrates on the implicit justice of the Aboriginal claim. Moreover, the explorers are shown leaning forward with sympathetic attention while the blacks' spears are being withdrawn, stayed by Gill's brush — as they were more desperately withdrawn perhaps in historical time and place. Since Gill's diary entry for this day details various successive skirmishes and difficulties,5 this later representation softens the historical actuality, so that the Horrocks watercolour can be seen rather to endorse his reputation for presenting harmony between whites and blacks than otherwise.
So the Horrocks drawing and ‘The Avengers’ share a moment of drama, but a strongly contrasting visual symbolism. Where the Horrocks drawing speaks of the

Plate 5: ‘Horrocks First Interview with Hostile Blacks’ (1868), watercolour, 24. x 34.7 cm. (Reproduced courtesy the National Library of Australia)

justice of the Aborigines' cause, ‘The Avengers’ points to the frightening vulnerability of its imperilled Aborigines. While the blacks and Horrocks are about to negotiate, the blacks and their ‘Avengers’ are wholly cut off from one another, without hope of dialogue. The blacks sit within gun sighting while their avengers are wholly empowered by their guerilla advantage and watchful knowledge. The violence seems at one moment arrested, at the next imminent, suggesting an ambiguous, disturbing narrative. So the Horrocks drawing (in any case a much later work than ‘The Avengers’) does nothing to lay to rest the puzzle of that drawing's uncharacteristic imminent violence.
Grishin's Introduction to Dr Doyle's Sketches in Australia sees the Doyle ‘Avengers’ as the third in a series of three works concerned, unusually as Grishin notes, with the hostilities under discussion.

Plate 6: ‘Poor Harmless Natives’, watercolour, Dr Doyle's Sketches in Australia (Plate 12). (Reproduced courtesy Mitchell Library)

This proposed ‘series’ in presented order, includes the ironically titled, ‘Poor Harmless Natives’ (Plate 6), where blacks are seen about to spear two unsuspecting white merchants beside their dray; ‘The Marauders’ (Plate 7), where Aborigines flee by night with stolen sheep leaving a speared shepherd dead by his campfire;6 and, third, a version of ‘The Avengers’. Grishin's linking of all three in a series is, I think, suggestive but also debatable; and any implication that ‘The Avengers’, along with these companions, dates originally from the time of the Doyle collaboration, 1862–63, is certainly in error. Grishin is unclear on this point, since he claims that these drawings ‘may be viewed’ as a series ‘for the first time’ in the Doyle sketchbook, implying their earlier existence independent of that project. However, he goes on also to claim that here for the first time their ‘true intention’ ‘becomes clear’;7 and that their now ‘unambiguous’ interpretation ‘may well reflect Doyle's personal preferences’ being ‘geared to a British audience with its developed appetite for tales of danger and adventure set in exotic places’.8
Given the ad hoc nature of the assembling of drawings for the Doyle sketchbook, — it is lucidly described by Grishin — it is certainly more than likely that Gill saw the presentation of these three as a series as providing a useful coherence for the sketchbook. That is, that he opportunistically generated their new appearance as a series to meet Doyle's presumable eye for a British ‘appetite’ (an appetite to which Gill, himself, had always been cheerfully impervious). Further, this ‘British appetite’ is, on the face of it, a plausible explanation for Gill's
apparent abrupt turn to racial disharmony in these three sketches.
Unfortunately, there is no internal evidence that the Doyle version of ‘Avengers’ was either drawn for Doyle or reworked to satisfy Doyle's pandering to British taste. On the contrary, the drawing conforms in all essential particulars of composition with those earlier versions which well precede the Gill-Doyle collaboration and are thus immune to Doyle's ambitions for a London audience. Further, Grishin's account ignores the actual origin of this drawing in 1858–59, an origin to which Geoffrey Dutton draws clear attention as early as 1981 in S. T. Gill's Australia.9
And here is the centre of my argument. While he lists all other known versions, Grishin fails altogether to remember the most distinctive ‘Avengers’ of them all. This is the ‘Avengers’ produced by Gill in 1858 or early in 1859 as a commission for publisher Jacob Richard Clarke of Sydney for whom Gill was doing considerable work at the time (Plate 8 & front cover). This wholly distinctive and most important ‘Avengers’ survives only in the form of an engraving by

Plate 7: ‘The Marauders’, watercolour, Dr Doyle's Sketches in Australia (Plate 13). (Reproduced courtesy Mitchell Library)

Sydney engraver, Walter Mason. As an engraving it exists as the cover illustration to those few rare copies of Louisa Atkinson's second novel, Cowanda, The Veteran's Grant (1859)10 that themselves live on precariously in decaying collections of rare books in Australian libraries.
The single most important point, then, in the history of Gill's anomalous ‘Avengers’ painting and its subsequent versions is its origin as an illustration for a colonial novel. That is, probably for the first time in his life, Gill sketched hostility between Australian blacks and whites simply because the second chapter of a colonial novel required him to do so. In that commission his attitudes, convictions, or simple well-tempered preferences were at last suspended in the service of another artist's narrative. And even here, because that novelist and her tale (as it turned out) shared his sympathy for Aborigines, his temperamental inclination to give the Aborigines moral advantage concurred with the same element in the novel.
I want to go on to argue that the Louisa Atkinson connection throws further tantalizing light on the work of S. T. Gill in the late 1850s, almost certainly accounting for ‘The

Plate 8: cover illustration of Louisa Atkinson's Cowanda, The Veteran's Grant (1859). (Reproduced courtesy the National Library of Australia)

Marauders’ as well as ‘The Avengers’ and providing, beyond these well-known works, at least two new Gill attributions. And the distinctive character of the Cowanda version of the ‘Avengers’, those striking features that make it stand out from all other versions, point suggestively to its evolution from earlier work done by Gill for Atkinson's first novel, Gertrude the Emigrant, A Tale of Colonial Life (1857). This Gill-Atkinson connection and the development of one pocket handkerchief square of Gill's work in the late fifties make up the second story of my paper, a story which then twines forward to fill in my account of ‘The Avengers’ and ‘The Marauders’. It is an intricate story whose steps, if speculative and unprovable, are convincing because they explain anomalies, like the puzzle of The Avengers' itself, in the behaviour of each of the artists whose work met in brief constellation in 1858–59 in colonial Sydney.
The vital connecting link between the brilliant alcoholic artist, S. T. Gill, and the young reserved and pious novelist-artist-natural historian, Louisa Atkinson, was the George Street office of publisher, Jacob Richard Clarke. Jacob Clarke, whose sound, entrepreneurial judgment seized with enthusiasm on Gill's Sydney arrival and all the work he could offer, specialised in illustrated publications and ran a special line in decorated sheet music. But not natural history journalism. And not novels. So what brought the apprentice journalist, not-yet novelist, Louisa Atkinson to this publisher not interested in novels? And given that this reluctant publisher took her on and later asked Gill to sketch the cover for her second novel, why did Gill then produce versions of the ‘Avengers’ unsuitable, indeed unusable for that purpose in one absolute essential, their horizontal composition and alignment? These unusable versions were, of course, those described above and discussed by Grishin in apparent ignorance of the Cowanda commission. They were also, as we have seen, later variously redeployed by Gill, like any other likely material in his portfolio, and for the Doyle sketchbook.
S. T. Gill arrived in Sydney from Melbourne in May, 1856, and worked actively from his Sydney studio (like Clarke's office, it was in George Street) for the next eight years. Here he produced some of his most brilliant work, including some of his best-known satirical watercolours using Aboriginal material (`Native Dignity' [Plate 9], for instance).11 In particular, he was approached by publisher Jacob Richard Clarke to illustrate a number of covers for sheet music12 and book covers like that for Peter Possum's Portfolio of 1858.
Louisa Atkinson's publishing career began in the Illustrated Sydney News of 1853 with a series of popular natural history notes, ‘Notes on the Months’, with accompanying illustrations drawn by the author.13 The young botanist-journalist was then nineteen years old, self-trained and anxious to establish an income perhaps more than her name. So the sudden collapse of the Illustrated Sydney News in June 1855 closed off Atkinson's first exciting journal outlet after fewer than a dozen of her essays and drawings had found publication. But, significantly for my argument, that collapse also closed off the major outlet of Atkinson's engraver, Walter George Mason, who was also by then sole proprietor of the Illustrated Sydney News.
Fortunately, colonial Sydney was a very small world for publishing professionals. Walter Mason also did regular engraving for Jacob Richard Clarke. I now enter speculation. Mason was impressed with good reason by Atkinson's rich and vibrant nature drawings as well as her writing which was proving especially popular in a Sydney starved for local work. By encouraging Atkinson to write a book with illustrations for Clarke (any book, I suspect, as long as it had illustrations to please this specialist Sydney publisher), Mason could ensure continued
engraving work for himself as well as work for Atkinson. That some persuasion was entered into, perhaps in several directions, is suggested by Clarke's deviation, in the case of the novel Louisa Atkinson went on to produce, from his common publishing interests. Further, his bent for decorative publishing (in which Mason's engravings are prominent in the late 1850s) possibly accounts for the double columns and unusual ‘boxing’ of that novel's pages.
That Clarke was conscious of commercial risk with Gertrude the Emigrant is suggested by his cautious use of ‘numbers’ in the Atkinson publication — the release of a series of twenty-four illustrated sections of the novel at intervals throughout 1857 so that the project could be summarily abandoned if necessary. It was not. Sales were so good that in December 1857 the Gertrude ‘numbers’ were hurriedly bound between hard covers just in time to catch the Christmas trade. More to the point of my discussion, however, were the novel's twenty-three illustrations, all but one of them full-page engravings, and including an illustrated title-page and illustrated hard cover. And these were engraved on wood from ‘sketches supplied by the fair Authoress’.14 These illustrations, moreover, had cunningly provided each threepenny ‘number’ with its own bright self-advertising cover page, so Louisa's illustrations, despite their general lack of distinction, earned a double keep.
With this historically important publication,15 Louisa Atkinson became the first native-born Australian woman to publish a novel and the first Australian author to illustrate her own fiction. And Walter Mason, as planned, produced the wood engravings for the book from her sometimes raw but valiant sketches. Atkinson was to become a skilled

Plate 9: ‘Native Dignity’, lithograph, 31.8 x 22.5 cm. Nan Kivell Collection NK 2459/6. (Reproduced courtesy the National Library of Australia)

water-colourist of natural history, producing some very fine work with landscapes, fauna and flora; but she never wholly succeeded with the human figure, so necessary to fiction illustration. Even so, these Gertrude drawings were not invariably ‘raw and valiant’, if only because they were, as certain of the drawings and one review clearly inform us,16 ghosted or reworked by S. T. Gill.
Gill's role in Atkinson's illustrations for Gertrude is intermittent but clear and offers the world at least two new Gill attributions. I believe there is no doubt that Gill actually produced two, perhaps three, of the Gertrude drawings entire for the young writer, who was under some pressure to provide not only her fortnightly instalment but an illustration as well. However, none of the illustrations carries Gill's famous signature (not even, as far as I can detect, in the subversive disguise he used in the Doyle
sketchbook). The most casual comparison of the drab, wooden figures wandering through the Gertrude illustrations with the sparkling figures of two women on Brickfield Hill caught in a real ‘brickfielder’ in the sketch, ‘The Recognition’, makes the point (Plate 10). ‘The Recognition’ disperses a rich amusement across its picture-wide contest with a sweeping wind. Its central figures are so lit up with their interest in one another that they disregard the strong breeze swirling about their lifting skirts, tugging the hat and jacket of the figures behind them, disturbing every element of a scene whose chief thematic figure is wind in drapery. The piece is not only beyond Louisa Atkinson's art but is pure Gill. My second Gill attribution from Gertrude is the drawing ‘Kangaroo at Bay’ (Plate 11), whose lithe, flowing hounds and background hatted figure leaning forward across his horse fairly wave S. T. Gill flags. And a possible third is the fine title-page illustration (Plate 12) which in the bound edition appears twice, once on the title-page and once on the front cover. This drawing's seated background figures, especially, show Gill technique, character and mood.17
Clearly pleased with his Gertrude the Emigrant sales, Clarke immediately accepted Atkinson's second novel, Cowanda, The Veteran's Grant for ready publication in 1859. And Cowanda brings me to my second major speculation, which in its turn explains, I believe, the existence of the several puzzling ‘open country’ versions of ‘The Avengers’, none of them usable for their primary purpose as the cover illustration for Cowanda. My speculation is that the happy experience with Gertrude inspired Clarke to repeat the success with a second fully illustrated novel. And just as he now went to the trouble to find a good compositor and printer to correct the appalling compositorial disaster of Gertrude, so he now decided to make good his first success by ensuring high quality illustrations for the second novel. S. T. Gill was the obvious candidate as artist, and, according to what I think is rather dramatic evidence, Gill went ahead with the commission.
More than half of the running narrative illustrations of Gertrude are presented in Gill's favourite horizontal alignment and set therefore sidelong on their pages. On Clarke's approach with the new Atkinson commission, I believe that Gill quickly took verbal instruction on the narrative and produced his first two illustrations for Cowanda. Fresh enough from his work with the Gertrude illustrations, he automatically fell into his favoured horizontal design and composition. And his eye for action went straight to the novel's first exciting episode -melodramatic then, dramatic now for my argument. This is the episode from the second chapter where the righteous hero arrives at his lonely station to find, first, a shepherd recently speared to death by blacks, and, second, his evil offsider abroad in the night with armed companions to take vengeance on the Aboriginal perpetrators. At last that mysterious vengeance is explained. Gill's/ Atkinson's ‘Avengers’ are out to avenge that classic colonial event, the spearing of a shepherd by dispossessed and hungry Aborigines.18
And the evidence that I, for one, find so ‘dramatic’ is the exact correspondence of this fictional sequence with the apparent Gill sequence, ‘Marauders’ and ‘Avengers’.
So, beginning his Cowanda work, Gill first drew the incident of the shepherd speared by blacks in the drawing called The Marauders' — that same loose drawing that the artist later gathered into his Doyle sketchbook. The title, ‘The Marauders’, like ‘The Avengers’, follows and echoes the Gertrude pattern of titles (`The Surprize', ‘The Wool Shed’, ‘The Recognition’, The New Chum'). And its dramatic night-time scene presents, probably for the first time in Gill, an accomplished murder with the murderers

Plate 10: ‘The Recognition’. back and white sketch in Louisa Atkinson's Gertrude the Emigrant, a Tale of Colonial Life. (Reproduced courtesy the National Library of Australia)

stealing away with their stolen sheep. However, as with the ensuing ‘Avengers’, I believe that Gill presents the racial violence of The Marauders' in simple professional subservience to a narrative not his own. He then follows on with his first ever ‘Avengers’, sketching on the same open-country horizontal design as ‘The Marauders’ and assuming that both illustrations would be set on their page side-on to the text they illustrated in the manner of most of the Gertrude illustrations.
But what happened then to Gill's work on the novel, Cowanda, which appeared in 1859 without narrative illustrations? Was the artist overwhelmed by other work or irritated by the commission as the novel ran into domestic episodes and increasing religious piety? Or was the entire text of Cowanda ready for publication earlier than expected with only two illustrations complete? Whatever the case, deciding to go ahead and publish, Clarke changed Gill's commission to a cover-illustration for the novel only. And either he or Gill selected the story's most exciting drama for this single advertising illustration; not ‘The Marauders’ with its murdered shepherd, a subject far too shocking for a colonial book cover and a novel by ‘An Australian Lady’, but its intriguing illustration to the following episode, ‘The Avengers’. In this selection, of course, both publisher and artist knew that Gill had a recently completed version ready for quick adaptation.
With his Cowanda work now cut to one illustration, Gill seems to have taken impressive care with the commission. I wrote earlier that the Cowanda ‘Avengers’ is the most important and distinctive of all extant versions of the drawing. Engraved again by Walter Mason, it shows greater detail, clarity and fineness of execution than the other more familiar versions. And Gill appears at this stage to have given close attention to the novel's text. His cover illustration contains a
larger company of campfire figures, some in sharp silhouette, and is the only ‘Avengers’ to include the clear figure of a black mother holding an infant. In her novel Atkinson has exploited the innocent ‘trustfulness’ of this lubra and her child to intensify her hero's and her reader's moral outrage. But first, Gill corrects the horizontal alignment of his first version to the compressed longitudinal view necessary to the book's cover. His new work becomes the only ‘Avengers’ to leave his favoured open country for a dense forested scene with its four avengers ranged behind a tree of full foliage. In this too, Gill follows Atkinson's narrative detail of ‘a rugged wall’ of ‘large trees’, and abandons his own penchant for social irony through such material as blasted tree stumps, black-boys and stray dogs. The work is in fact a careful, enriched, forested adaptation of the open country ‘Avengers’ to its new purpose as a cover illustration. It is compact, dramatic, centrally and rather bea.jpgully focused, and strangely serene.
The original open-country version of ‘The Avengers’ now going begging, Gill then sensibly redeployed it for other commercial

Plate 11: ‘Kangaroo at Bay’, black and white sketch in Louisa Atkinson's Gertrude the Emigrant, a Tale of Colonial Life. (Reproduced courtesy the National Library of Australia)

purposes, first, perhaps, in Edward Wilson's Rambles at The Antipodes; later along with its unused companion, ‘The Marauders’ and the unexplained ‘Poor Harmless Natives’19, in the aborted Doyle sketchbook. And later again in a drawing that spent much of its life in London before it became, in 1954, the present National Gallery of Victoria watercolour of 1871.20
It is ironic that the one and only version of Gill's intriguing ‘Avengers’ that held the answer to the question of its uncharacteristic exploration of racial violence was buried for a century in the literary bays of our archives, while those more numerous versions that repeatedly posed the question but could give no answer to it surfaced readily enough in pictorial collections and galleries. It finally took the feminist retrieval of a distinctly unfamous colonial woman writer to answer this minor conundrum about the work of a famous male (and by this feminist scholar, much admired) artist.
Elizabeth Lawson

Plate 12: title-page illustration, black and white sketch in Louisa Atkinson's Gertrude the Emigrant, a Tale of Colonial Life. (Reproduced courtesy the National Library of Australia)



This is only incidental. It occurs in brief but crucial reference in Geoffrey Dutton's S. T. Gill's Australia, Melbourne, Macmillan, 1981, p. 44, and in Dutton's note to the plate, ‘The Avengers’, in the same book, p. 144. There is a similar note in Caroline Clemente's Australian Watercolours 1802–1962 in the Collections of the National Gallery of Victoria (The Robert Raynor Publications in Prints and Drawings Number Four), National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1991, p. 36. And there is Sasha Grishin's fuller commentary in Dr Doyle's Sketches in Australia, Sydney, Mitchell Library and Centaur Press, 1993, pp. 19–20.


Grishin, p. 20.


For an account of Gill's troubled involvement with Doyle see Grishin's Introduction to Dr Doyle's Sketches in Australia, pp. 11–15.


‘Horrock's first interview with hostile blacks N. West of Spencer's Gulf, when in search of water, before moving his party up from Depot Creek’, 1868. Watercolour held by the National Library of Australia. This work is reproduced in Geoffrey Dutton's S. T. Gill in Australia, p. 78.


Quoted in S. T. Gill in Australia, pp. 22–3.


These are reproduced as Plates 12, 13 and 14 in Dr Doyle's Sketches in Australia.


Dr Doyle's Sketches in Australia, p. 20.


Grishin, p. 20.


Dutton, 1981, p. 44.


J. R. Clarke, Sydney, 1859. A long overdue second, and scholarly, edition of this novel by the first native-born woman novelist in Australia, edited by Elizabeth Lawson, was published by Mulini Press, Canberra, 1995.


A brief commentary and reproduction of this pungent composition can be seen in Geoffrey Dutton's S. T. Gill's Australia, pp. 45 and 141.


His most famous was the cover for dance music. ‘The Veno Gallop’, which the opportunistic Clarke rushed into print to meet the demand following the Veno racing sensation of 1857.


‘Notes of the Months’ with drawings; a short story; and several other essays, Illustrated Sydney News, various dates, 1853–1855.


Sydney Morning Herald, 10 December 1857, p. 5.


Gertrude the Emigrant, A Tale of Colonial Life still exists only in rare library copies of the 1857 Clarke edition. A second emended scholarly edition with introduction, notes and reproductions of the illustrations will appear in early 1997. Edited by Elizabeth Lawson, it will be published by the Colonial Text Series, School of English, ADFA. Canberra.


Sydney Morning Herald, 3 June 1857, p. 5. This review refers to the novel's ‘well-executed wood-engravings’ designed by ‘Messrs. Gill and Thomas’. Thomas is Edmund Thomas (1827–67), lithographer, of Sydney.


For helpful discussions on the Gill (and other influences) on Atkinson's illustrations I am grateful to Dr R. J. Dingley of the University of New England.


Gill may have remembered that the event of the blacks' territorial defence in the Horrocks drawing of 1871 was preceded and then stimulated by the spearing of a white shepherd. Given Atkinson's consistent responsiveness to current events and Clarke's pursuit of the topical, it is also possible that the selection of the ‘Avengers’ cover scene may have been inspired by contemporary discussion of the Hornet Bank massacre of October, 1857. I am grateful to Marian Quartly of Monash University for this suggestion.


So the Doyle ‘series’ projected by Sasha Grishin is suggestive. Unfortunately, I find no fictional correspondence for the first of this series, ‘Poor Harmless Natives’: there are plenty of drays in Atkinson's novels but no draymen about to be speared. Even so, Sasha Grishin notes that Gill published a close version of ‘Poor Harmless Natives’, now titled ‘Attack on store dray’, in his ‘Australian Sketchbook’, c. 1864, thus redeploying this work in the early 1860s as he did The Marauders' and The Avengers'.


Caroline Clemente records that this watercolour was purchased by the gallery in 1954 and gives the source. Messrs Newman, London. She attributes the work to the last Melbourne period suggesting its earlier origin in ‘an episode related to Gill by Eyre’. Here Clemonte seems not only to know nothing of the crucial Atkinson connection, but also of Gill's important series of watercolours sketched during his tragic involvement as expeditionary artist with the John Ainsworth Horrocks expedition to Lake Torrens in 1846, which produced the unextant original of this sketch. See my forthcoming paper, ‘Sketching the Edge: S. T. Gill Goes with Horrocks’, Proceedings of the Conference, Inhabiting Australia: The Australian Habitat and Australian Settlement, European Association for Studies on Australia, Copenhagen University, October 6–9, 1995. See also Clemente, Australian Watercolours, p. 36.