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Portrait of Captain John Hunter
, 1792

by Daniel Orme

stippled engraving (sheet: 19.2 cm x 13.8 cm, image: 15.0 cm x 12.0 cm)

John Hunter (1737–1821), naval officer, colonial governor and amateur artist, came to Sydney as second captain of the Sirius, the flagship of the First Fleet. An expert navigator, Hunter stayed for four years during which he surveyed Port Jackson, Norfolk Island and the bays and rivers around Sydney. He spent three years back in England before being appointed Arthur Phillip’s successor as governor. By the time Hunter returned in 1795, many of the principles established by his predecessor had unravelled under the administration of the New South Wales Corps. Hunter struggled to curb the trade in rum and the ‘shameful excesses’ it created. But he is also remembered for the significant explorations he instigated or conducted himself during his four-year term as governor. A typical man of the scientific Enlightenment, Hunter was skilled in navigation, astronomy, art, botany and writing. His precise observations of Sydney’s topography and people remain among the most important documents of the early years of the British in Australia.

This portrait appeared as the frontispiece to Hunter’s An historical journal of the transactions at Port Jackson and Norfolk Island, published in London in 1792.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased with funds provided by Ross A Field 2008
Accession number: 2008.17