John White traveled as chief surgeon of the First Fleet on a convict ship, to the newly-founded colony of New South Wales in 1788. He remained there until 1794 in the post of Surgeon General. An amateur naturalist, he made two expeditions in the vicinity of Sydney with Governor Phillips. He kept a journal of the first Australian settlement, including notes about birds and other flora and fauna. Published as Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales, it remains an important historical document, especially because it contains the first major account of the continent’s natural history. It is possible White made some of the original sketches for the engravings in Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales or that some were made by convict artists. In 1792, two years after the publication of the journal, the convict artist Thomas Watling arrived in the colony and was assigned to White. In the next two years, he made many drawings of birds for him.
Sarah Stone was one of the leading natural history artists of her day, active from about 1777 to 1806. She executed the drawings for White’s work. 31 original watercolors for White’s Journal are in the collection of the State Library of New South Wales (see References below). She also was employed by Sir Ashton Lever to record the contents of his private museum of animal specimens and ethnographic material brought back by British expeditions to Australia, the Americas, Africa and the Far East in the last twenty years of the 18th century. In addition, she provided illustrations for Shaw’s Museum Leverianum, Latham’s Synopsis of Birds, Pennant’s A view of Hindoostan and exhibited her own watercolors. After her marriage in 1789, she published illustrations under the name Sarah Smith.
Condition: Generally very good, with the usual overall toning and light wear.
“John White.” Australian National Botanic Gardens. http://www.anbg.gov.au/biography/white-john.html (1 March 2004).
“Table of Contents: Album of 31 original watercolours of Australian fauna c. 1790.”State Library of New South Wales. 2003. http://image.sl.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/ebindshow.pl?doc=pxa909/a112 (1 March 2004).
White, John. “Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales : A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook.” Project Gutenberg Australia . December 2003. http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks03/0301531h.html#platelist (3 February 2006).