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George and Jemima Billet with family, c.1852

C.H.T. Costantini

watercolour on paper (frame: 38.7 cm x 34.2 cm depth 1 cm, sheet: 28.0 cm x 23.0 cm)

George Bellette (1812–1885) was a farmer and landowner and the son of two ex-convicts. His father was found guilty of stealing silk and came to Sydney with the First Fleet; his mother was transported in 1790 for thieving silverware. Both were sent to Norfolk Island, where they married and eventually acquired pardons. Relocated to Van Diemen’s Land in 1808, they moved to present-day Sorell, where many other Norfolk Island ex-convict families had settled. George’s marriage to a daughter of one such family, Jemima Larsom (1818–1891), took place in February 1835; their first child was born in 1836, and another eleven children followed between 1838 and 1858. George maintained an active interest in local political matters, served as a magistrate, and contributed significantly to farming activity in the district before retiring in 1880.

Charles Henry Theodore Costantini was transported to New South Wales for theft in 1823. He was pardoned in 1825, but re-offended almost immediately and was transported again – to Van Diemen’s Land – in 1827. Having served his term at Macquarie Harbour and Port Arthur he worked as an itinerant artist, creating ‘portraits in the most correct style’ from 1838 until his departure from the colony in the late 1850s.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2016

Accession number: 2016.44

Currently on display: Gallery Three (Robert Oatley Gallery)

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Artist and subject

C.H.T. Costantini (age 49 in 1852)

George Bellette (age 40 in 1852)

Jemima Bellette (age 34 in 1852)

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