A View of Sydney: The Taylor Panorama Reassessed
journal contributionposted on 27.01.2021, 20:25 by Robin Skinner
In the 1820s British society had the opportunity to experience life in Sydney, New South Wales through the publication of a panorama of the military officer, Major James Taylor (1785–1829). The 1823 aquatints of his watercolours presented views of Sydney from the military area on the present-day Observation Hill. As well as communicating Governor Lachlan Macquarie’s progressive vision for a colony that was advancing beyond its status as a penal settlement, it presented its audience with narratives of life in Sydney. Taylor’s panorama survives through four preparatory watercolours and the three elegant aquatints. This publication drew sufficient interest to prompt subsequent editions in France and Britain. By the early twentieth century the work was valued in Australia as a record of the fabric of colonial Sydney, with later researchers discussing Taylor’s representation of various participants’ roles in the fledgling settlement. Analysis of Taylor’s study and its publication in Europe provides further insight into his composition and its reception, as well as furthering our understanding of life in New South Wales at that time.