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Mocatta, commonly called Pretty Mary, a native of South Australia
, c. 1840

by Theresa Walker

wax medallion (frame: 15.4 cm x 15.4 cm depth 3.9 cm diameter 45 cm)

On loan to the National Portrait Gallery

Theresa Walker’s portraits of Mullawillaburka and Mukata were long assumed to be a husband and wife pair. Copied by the watercolourist, draughtsman and printmaker George French Angas, they were published in 1843 as ‘Kertamaroo (King John)’ and ‘Mogata, his wife.’ However, while Mullawillaburka is known to have had four wives and the name of the youngest is unrecorded, there are no official records that confirm such a relationship between these two. Moreover, in Walker’s originals the heads of the sitters are not facing one another, which was the common convention with portraits of married or related couples. Often in settler colonial art, it is those Aboriginal people best-known or most useful to the British – go-betweens like Mullawillaburka – who are memorialised in art. Mukata’s life story, on the other hand, is – like those of so many Indigenous women – as yet unknown.

Day Gallery- Vincent and Helen
Accession number: LOAN2018.22.2