An emigrant's thoughts of home

An emigrant's thoughts of home
1859

Artist/s name
Marshall CLAXTON


Medium
oil on cardboard
Measurements
60.7 x 47.0 cm
Place/s of Execution
London, England
Accession Number
A8-1974
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented by the National Gallery Women's Association, 1974
Gallery Location
Gallery 5
Level 2, NGV Australia

The emigration of millions of British people in the nineteenth century to countries throughout the world inspired a genre of painting that focused on the emotional impact of departure from home and arrival in a new land.

While not specifically about Australia, Marshall Claxton's image represents the more sentimental aspects of migration. The young émigré depicted stands on the ship’s deck, her hands clasped demurely in front of her as she stares wistfully out to sea. She appears passive and vulnerable, caught between the world she has left behind and the uncertainty of the new world that lies ahead.

The painting is unusual in that it focuses on female emigration. Initially more men emigrated to Australia than women. To address this gender imbalance, the British Government developed incentives to encourage single women to emigrate.