The great museums and galleries in Australia do more than acquire, maintain and display their collections; they are also centres of academic research driven by their curators. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in Portrait, the magazine of the National Portrait Gallery. Its current issue contains an excellent range of articles by curators revealing fascinating aspects of the collection including developments in the portraiture of Nicholas Harding and Gallery Director Angus Trumble on the recent acquisition of the rare enamel portrait of William Manning by Henry Bone.
In 1824, the British Parliament acceded to some heavy-weight lobbying: William Manning with 27 other MPs plus the Governor and other directors of the Bank of England together with directors of the East India Company, sought the passage of an Act of Parliament to establish the Australian Agricultural Company with the right to select 1,000,000 acres in NSW. Advised by John Oxley and Henry Dangar, the company’s initial holding was between Port Macquarie and Port Stephens with the Manning River named after our subject William Manning. The company’s focus evolved over the years, the location of its holdings changed but it prospers to this day.
Henry Bone’s enamel portrait of Manning is derived from an 1814 oil portrait by James Lonsdale via an engraving by Charles Turner. Angus Trumble describes Bone’s delicate and painstaking process of producing this remarkable portrait.
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