- Museum number
Drawing; watercolour, from a collection of nineteen Thomas Bock portraits of Tasmanian Aboriginal people held by the British Museum. It depicts an unknown Tasmanian Aboriginal man wearing necklaces and dressed hair. One of his top teeth is missing.
- Production date
Height: 17.50 centimetres
Width: 15.10 centimetres
- Curator's comments
J B Davis MS 145 RAI lists: '12. Fine coloured drawing of a Tasmanian, [male symbol] ochred, and wants an upper front tooth. By Bock'.
Plomley (1965:14) notes: 'UNKNOWN B (Plate 10). This portrait is in the same style as that of Togerlongerter. The man lacks an upper incisor'.
The production date is based on Plomley (1991:35). Plomley refers to this as Unknown B and tentatively identifies as Montpeliater, 'the Big River chief captured by G A Robinson on 31 December 1831, with Togerlongerter and others, sent to Flinders Island Aboriginal Settlement 17 January, 1832. The capture of the Big River/Oyster Bay people was so important that it twas commemorated by painting Togerlongerter's portrait it is probable that Mont.pe.li.atter's portrait was painted also, the latter being the more noteworthy of the two men. This portrait has been chosen rather than that of Unknown C BM [Oc 2006, Drg 73] because the painting is similar to that in the portrait of Togerlongerter. Note the missing upper incisor tooth'.
Tim Bonyhady in Bonyhady and Lehman (2018:77) writes that 'The watercolour by Bock tentatively identified by Plomley as depicting Montpeliater shows a man with ochred hair and beard, consistent with Glover's drawing. But such hair and beards were commonplace among the Big River and Oyster Bay men and there is no documentary evidence to support Plomley's identification which has been embraced by the Bock exhibition staged by the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in Hobart. It is not even clear that the watercolour in question shows a member of the Big River and Oyster Bay people'. He notes at foonote 11 on p.121 that 'this watercolour is better considered as depicting an unidentified Tasmanian Aboriginal man'.
Cassandra Pybus, in discussion 17 May 2019, suggests that this is Penderoin. He was the brother of Tunnerminawait and one of Robinson's guides who died in the Hobart hospital of measles at the time that Bock was finishing this series of paintings. It could be an unfinished early study for the portrait series that was not completed.
In 1963 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 was acquired from Dr J Barnard Davis’ collection in 1883. Plomley (1963:15) 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.
- 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: 12 (Davis Catalogue MS 145 RAI 1867)
Miscellaneous number: Oc2006-Drg71-Boc