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State Library of NSW

Charles Rodius

When

Mondays to Thursdays, 9am to 8pm Fridays, 9am to 5pm Weekends, 10am to 5pm Friday 20 October 2023 to Sunday 12 May

The first ever retrospective of 19th century Australia's best unknown artist, Charles Rodius (1802–1860).

The Charles Rodius exhibition brings together over 90 original watercolours, drawings and prints – many never seen by Australian audiences – from public and private collections in Australia and the UK, including the State Library’s own unrivalled collection.

Rodius arrived in NSW in 1829 as a convict after being sentenced in London for stealing a lady's handbag at the opera. He worked for a short time for the Colonial Architect’s Office, and his sketches of Sydney Harbour and renderings of settlers’ houses from this period can be seen in the exhibition.

He resumed his portraiture and teaching work after being granted a ticket-of-exemption in 1832, just as the colony was experiencing an influx of English colonists who eagerly sought images of the colony to send back to their families in Europe. 

While his core clientele was drawn from the public service and professional classes, Rodius’ sitters also included people from all walks of life, including recognisable public figures such as Garigal leader Bungaree, Jamaican ferryman Billy Blue, explorer Ludwig Leichhardt, a young Henry Parkes and more.

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State Library of NSW

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