- Museum number
Drawing; watercolour, from a collection of nineteen Thomas Bock portraits of Tasmanian Aboriginal people, held by the British Museum. It depicts a woman wearing a fibre neck-ornament, a shell necklace as well as a fur cloak, and who has scarification on her arms. Until 2017, it was thought to depict Wutapuwitja (aka Wortabowidgee, Fanny or Jock) a Tasmanian Aboriginal woman from Port Dalrymple, but is now believed to be Trukanini (see curatorial comments).
- Production date
- 1833 (late (see curatorial comment))
Height: 29.20 centimetres
Width: 22.20 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Until 2017 there was a mix up between the identification of the woman in this drawing and the one depicted in Oc2006, Drg 58. The set of drawings at the BM is untitled. The identification of Trukanini has usually been identified based on later copies by Bock such as at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery which has her name written on it. However, the record on Bock's original drawing (this one), from the catalogue of J B Davis, says at item number 5:
'Fine coloured drawing of Truggernana [female symbol] by Bock. Truggernana presents the natural colour of the skin. I have no doubt she was a native or Brune Isl.' ' Shell necklace.'
Thus Trukanini is the only woman shown wearing a shell necklace amongst the portraits.
J B Davis Cat #6 MS 145 RAI: "6. Fine coloured drawing of “Wortabowigee”. By Bock. Native of Port Dalrymple. Has kangaroo skin dress, and wheals on the arm, but is not ochred." From MS145 'Catalogue of Drawings, Paintings & other objects of an Ethnological Nature', Royal Anthropological Institute Archive. This is BM Oc2006, Drg.58.
In 1965 NJB Plomley published a paper which attempted to untangle the complex provenance of the different collections of Thomas Bock’s (1790-1855) portraits of Tasmanian Aboriginal people, including those held by the British Museum. The British Museum’s seventeen Bock portraits were acquired from Dr J Barnard Davis’ collection in 1883. Plomley (1965:15) argued that Davis acquired this set of portraits before 1867 from Thomas Bock’s son, Alfred Bock (1835-1920), and that they are copies of Thomas Bock’s work, executed by Alfred. However, based on a close study of the surviving documentation and its relationship to the inscriptions on many of the British Museum’s Bock portraits, it is clear that the British Museum’s collection of Bock portraits derive from a larger assemblage of prints, paintings and ethnographic objects collected by Robinson before his return to England in 1852, and which Barnard Davis purchased from GA Robinson’s widow in 1867. Davis’ descriptions of this material clearly identify the works as having been executed by Thomas Bock.
Plomley (1991:35) wrote that the drawings of Woureddy and Truganini were painted about October 1831. Historian Cassandra Pybus, in advice by email June 2018, advises that Plomley decided these were done by a convict at the Prisoners Barracks in Launceston. Instead she believes that they belong to a set probably done by Bock some time late in 1833 after Robinson and his guides returned from Macquarie Harbour and were in Hobart for about three weeks.
Oc,2006, Drg.76 is a copy of this drawing done by G. Gray for J. Barnard Davis.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2017-2018 06 Dec– 11 Mar, Birmingham, Ikon Gallery, Thomas Bock
2018 17 Aug- 09 Nov, Hobart, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Thomas Bock
- Window mounted, in good condition.
- Acquisition notes
- This was probably part of the collection of artworks and ethnographic objects which Joseph Barnard Davis (q.v.) acquired from Robinson's widow in the 1860s, and which AW Franks (q.v.) later purchased for the British Museum at the auction sale of Davis's estate in 1883.
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: 6 (Davis Catalogue MS 145 RAI 1867)
Miscellaneous number: Oc2006-Drg56-Boc