©2007 Historic Houses Trust of NSW

Sydney View 1788-1888

Liberated from history's cold storage by the collecting pursuits of Beat Knoblauch, the artworks in this fascinating collection document Sydney's growth from the tentative early views of the 1790s colonial settlement to the large, confident centenary panoramas celebrating the city as a metropolis.

Before the invention of photography, topographic views and panoramas were the main source of information about the progress of the new British outpost in the antipodes, its flora and fauna and Indigenous inhabitants. Publishers competed with each other for early drawings and watercolours of Sydney to engrave and use as illustrations for their latest books. Often distinguished by extraordinary detail, the views are both intriguing and impressive. They were like guidebooks for the armchair traveller, but they also played an important political role in celebrating and visually promoting the success of this far-flung colony.

Many of the individual works in the collection have become icons of Australian art: published together, they provide a unique perspective on Sydney's first hundred years.