HM Sloop Investigator on the South Coast of New Holland, January 1802

‘A Bay on the South Coast of New Holland, January 1802’ by William Westall. Painting in collection of Ministry of Defence (via BBC Your Paintings).

Fascinated by the potential mineral wealth of the newly-discovered Terra Australis (Australia), the Admiralty sent Captain Matthew Flinders to follow elements of Captain James Cook’s map and to explore, particularly, the South Coast of the new continent – between what is now known as Albany and Melbourne. The artist accompanying the voyage in 1801 was the very young William Westall. This particular painting is typical of his developing lyrical style: a superb landscape painter, his particular strengths were his ability to show strange trees and vegetation, such as the snake which is shown in the foreground. The ship at anchor in the bay is HMS Investigator.