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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.

Thomas Woolner

In their own words

Thomas Woolner
Audio: 2 minutes

We passed through country today that was like a continuous pleasure-ground, so beautifully patched with shrubs and trees and broken with hills and creeks. We came to a shepherd’s hut that was in a spot which might by labour be turned into a paradise. The man’s wife and family were there. It has something wild and comfortable in aspect. One little girl was swinging, a graceful little creature. I will make a bas relief of her when I get back to England and the fine arts. The place where we are camped in is the most beautiful we have seen, and the wildest.

Christmas – and warm soft air, brilliant sunlight, plentiful flowering foliage, butterflies, innumerable common flies, voices of birds, almost as various and manifold as the vegetation. I can scarcely write for the flies buzzing about and irritating my eyes. The grass is pale yellow and more like hay than grass with the sun’s heat. It dazzles my eyes to look across the plain where the heat is shaking the distance. All this should be strange to an Englishman, but somehow it seems all a matter of course to me. I knew before I left my own country that Time and Place were reversed here, so all I see appears appropriate. If anything comes better than I have been accustomed to, I enjoy; if worse, I endure it.

I have seen 27 Christmas days now but never expected to see one like this. While I write in the full shine of a glorious day, my friends are in their beds sleeping, or perhaps a few rather ‘jolly fellows’ may be winding home through the streets with raw, dark, dirty drizzle falling on them, after spending Christmas Eve. Well, I hope they may enjoy their plum pudding. I wish I could get my letters. Ah! If I could it would be better than a prince’s feast to me, a Christmas luxury truly.

Acknowledgements

Woolner, Thomas (1852) Diary of Thomas Woolner, 1852-1854, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Attribution

Voiced by Joel Horwood

Related people

Thomas Woolner

Related information

The last of England 1855
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The last of England 1855
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Pre-Raphaelite Profile

Magazine article by Michael Desmond, 2006

In 2006 the National Portrait Gallery acquired a splendid portrait of Victoria's first governor, Lieutenant Governor Charles Joseph La Trobe by Thomas Woolner.

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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.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency