- Museum number
Plaster bust of Woureddy, a Tasmanian Aboriginal man. Depicted wearing a necklace coiled three times, and skin clothing. Bust on a circular, plaster base, and painted brown. Bust is hollow, and the rough surface of the plaster is visible at the reverse.
- Production date
- 1835 (?)
Height: 75 centimetres
Width: 46 centimetres
Depth: 27 centimetres
- Curator's comments
From the Royal Anthropological Institute's MS145:
'Catalogue of Drawings, Paintings & other objects of an Ethnological Nature.
1. Bust of "Woreddy", a Tasmanian [underlined], a Native of Brune Island. Executed by B. Law. Hobartown.
2. Bust of "Trugernanny", a Tasmanian woman, a Native of Sullivan Cove, the second wife of Woreddy. Executed by B. Law. She accompanied G.A. Robinson on his expeditions, and saved his life on one occasion, when the natives were about to murder him, by swimming before him across a river. He could not swim.'
(List continues and includes a painting and drawing of Woureddy, and a drawing of Truganini.)
George Augustus Robinson recorded (Plomley 1987:650): 'Woureddy sat for his bust with great patience and was highly pleased with the model. The drapery is in imitation of the kangaroo skin worn by the aborigines in their primitive state. The neckace is also aboriginal and is made of the sinews of the kangaroot tail. The VDL aborigines are woolly haired. The ringlets on Woureddy's head is twisted and spun out at which time in dressing they use a mixture of ochre and grease.'
Knapman (2010:41) quotes from letters of Benjamin Law's wife that casts of Woureddy 'are called for not only in all quarters of the Colony, but are being sent to India, to Sweden, to England, Scotland and one went last week to Cambridge College...and indeed all or nearly all the great people, here, he sells these casts at 4/4 each so that we begin now to be very comfortable indeed'.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1988 31 Mar-29 May, Commonwealth Institute, London
1988 25 Jun-31 July, The Usher Gallery, Lincoln
Exhibited for exhibition 'Stories of Australian Art' curated by Jonathan Watkins. See publication of same name published by Commonwealth Institute and Australian Studies Centre, London.
- The nose has been chipped on the self-right nostril, but is also painted brown. The rough clay on the inside is cream, with dark discolouration in places, including inside the head.
- Acquisition date
- 1883 (?)
- Acquisition notes
- Former Keeper of Ethnography, A W Franks, acquired parts of Dr J Barnard Davis’s Australian collection for the Museum in 1883 from a sale at Sotheby Wilkinson and Hodge, following Barnard Davis's death in 1881. The busts 2009,2025.1 and 2 may have entered the museum with this material. A catalogue listing of Barnard Davis’s collection compiled by him c.1867 is held at the Royal Anthropological Institute lists the two busts as the first and second entries (see Curator's comments).
There is also a record of the Royal Anthropological Institute selling two Tasmanian busts to the British Museum in 1898. See RAI Council Minutes 10 and 24 May, ff.345-6,349. The RAI appears to have held other busts as it's archive on its museum collection, A70, refers to busts of Truganini and Woureddy which may have been presented to the Anthropological Society in May 1865 by Admiral Bethune with the sanction of the United Service Institute (see Anthrop. Rev 3, 1865, p. ccxlvii). There is also a reference in a report by Charles Carter Blake 5 March 1866 to the presentation of two Tasmanian busts (see A5/103 RAI). The bust of Truganini at the RAI was purchased by the Tasmanian Museum in December 1990 with the whereabouts of the Woureddy bust unknown at that time.
Plomley 1965:16 states in relation to the busts of Woureddy and Truganini in the British Museum that 'there is no reason to doubt they formed part of the Barnard Davis collection'. However, the Catalogue of the sale of the Davis Collection by Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge on 19/1/1883 does not appear to list these busts.
Email from Cliff Thornton of Essex June 2017 advises that these two busts can be traced back to a donation to the United Services Institution in 1839 by Captain C. Drinkwater Bethune, R.N., reported as: 'Busts of Wouraddy and his wife Trucaninny, aboriginal natives of Van Diemen's Land, who accompanied Mr G A Robinson in his expedition as conciliator. On one occasion, when Mr Robinson, in attempting to cross a river, was nearly carried away by the current, he was saved by this woman, Truganinny, who plunged into the stream and saved him. The busts were modelled by Mr Benjamin Law, sculptor, Hobart Town'. Thornton suggests that as the Anthropology Society used to hold meetiings at the USI before it had its own premises, the busts may have come to the attention of its members there.
Captain (later Admiral) Bethune visited Hobart in April 1838 on board HMS Conway. He was also the owner of two canoe paddles from Borneo which the British Museum acquired from the United Services Museum in 1896. Given the record noted above that the RAI sold the British Museum two busts in 1898, just two years after the Borneo objects were acquired from the RAI in 1896, and the busts don't seem to be listed in the sale of the Davis collection, it is perhaps the better view that the two Tasmanian busts in the British Museum came from Captain Drinkwater Bethune rather than from G A Robinson and J B Davis.
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: 1 (Davis Catalogue RAI MS145)