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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Portrait of Augustus Leopold Küper, 1823

Johann Paul Georg Fischer

watercolour over pencil on artist board (frame: 33.2 cm x 28.0 cm, sheet: 23.5 cm x 19.7 cm)

Admiral Sir Augustus Leopold Kuper GCB (1809-1885) entered the Royal Navy in London at fourteen. For the first decade of his career, he served in South American, British, Spanish, Portuguese and Mediterranean waters. In June 1837, he began to prepare for a voyage under his father-in-law - who was to become Rear Admiral of the Blue Sir James John Gordon Bremer KCB KCH - to northern Australia, where the British had already tried, and failed, to establish settlements at Fort Dundas (Melville Island) and Fort Wellington on the Cobourg peninsula. The goals at Port Essington were to establish cultivation of cotton, spices, sugar and other produce, using cheap labour from Southeast Asia; and to create a trading hub like Singapore, which had developed so dramatically between 1819 and 1835. Kuper was in charge of the Pelorus, which was driven ashore in a hurricane at Port Essington in mid-1839; doggedly, he directed the 86 days’ work required to free the vessel. By 1850 Port Essington, too, lay abandoned; its scant remains are now in the Garig Gunak Barlu National Park. Long-departed, Kuper prospered, becoming Commander-in-Chief of the East Indies and China Station. In the 1860s he was involved with the bombardment of Kagoshima and commanded the fleet that re-opened the Straits of Shimonoseki; for the latter action, he was made Knight Grand Cross of the Bath.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2018

Accession number: 2018.2

Currently on display: Gallery Four (Liangis Gallery)

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Artist and subject

Johann Paul Georg Fischer (age 37 in 1823)

Augustus L. Küper

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.