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ON DISPLAY

Jane Franklin
, c.1866 - 1875

by an unknown artist after Thomas Bock

carved marble relief

Jane Franklin (née Griffin, 1791–1875) came to Van Diemen’s Land in 1837 following the appointment of her husband, Sir John Franklin, to the position of lieutenant-governor of the colony. Jane was somewhat unique among colonial vice-regal spouses for being forthright, childless and well-travelled; for her intellectual interests; and for her ‘unwomanly’ outspokenness on matters such as prison reform and convict discipline. Both she and Franklin viewed Van Diemen’s Land not merely as a prison but a new society in which education, science and the arts should be fostered. Foremost among the artists she supported was the ex-convict Thomas Bock. In 1837 she commissioned copies of his earlier watercolour portraits of the Aboriginal leaders associated with George Augustus Robinson; and in 1842 Bock created a portrait of Mathinna, an Aboriginal girl removed from her family in 1839 and taken to Government House in Hobart so that Lady Franklin might experiment with ‘civilising’ her. In 1838, at a friend’s request, Lady Franklin sat to Bock for her own portrait; this sculpture is said to be based on the drawing which resulted from the sitting.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2018
Accession number: 2018.17