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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.

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James Macarthur

c. 1836-1838
an unknown artist

black and bronze ink with white bodycolour highlight on buff board (frame: 13.8 cm x 11.8 cm depth 1.0 cm, sheet: 9.0 cm x 7.5 cm)

James Macarthur (1798–1867), landowner and politician, was the fifth child of early colonial pastoralists John and Elizabeth Macarthur. Born at Parramatta, James was tutored at home until 1809, when he travelled to England with his father, who’d been ordered back to London to account for his part in the overthrow of Governor William Bligh in 1808. John Macarthur’s exile lasted eight years, during which James completed his schooling. After returning home he became involved in the family’s various agricultural ventures, and with his brother William he gradually progressed into the role of business and estate manager as his father’s health deteriorated.

The reverse of this silhouette is inscribed ‘J Macarthur Esq. of Camden’ – Camden Park, near Menangle, New South Wales, being the family’s flagship property. This indicates it was made between John Macarthur’s death in 1834, when James and his surviving brothers inherited the bulk of their father’s estate, and the early 1840s, when photography started making silhouette artists redundant. It may have been made during James’ visit to England from 1836 to 1838, when he became engaged and was married.

Purchased 2019

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

James MacArthur (age 38 in 1836)

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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 past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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