This fine watercolour by Edward La Trobe Bateman is one of the few known examples of the artist’s finished work in the watercolour medium. A significant addition to the Gallery’s collection of colonial Australian art, The homestead, Cape Schanck complements the existing holdings of Bateman’s work, which reflect the wideranging nature of his creative activities. Encompassing book illumination, drawing and watercolour painting, architecture, and interior decoration, as well as furniture and garden design, Bateman’s talents found a receptive audience in the cultivated society of colonial Melbourne, of which he was a part.
From late 1854 and for much of 1855 Bateman was the guest of his friend Alfred Howitt at ‘Barragunda’, the Howitt family’s residence at Cape Schanck on the Mornington Peninsula. John and Susanna Barker owned three properties in the same area and were also part of Bateman’s social circle at the time. Executed in Bateman’s characteristically detailed style, this watercolour depicts the original homestead on the Barkers’ pastoral run at Cape Schanck. Described as ‘one of the most picturesque places in the country’, the Barker property was described by one contemporary observer:
One could not help but admire the style and excellence of the whole affair … The house was of stone and slab, shingled, roomy and of solid proportions, filled too with ingenious contrivances and conveniences. The verandah was a deep one, supported on solid columns of barked timber – with an outlook to the straits – embracing as it did a well ordered and picturesque garden, the lighthouse with its outbuildings, the massive outstretching Cape in all its varying breadths of colour … [with] the brown basaltic block of the ‘Pulpit’ forming the terminus.
I would like to thank Ann Neale for providing information on Edward La Trobe Bateman.