"Taranaki, Feb 15 1845"
15 Feb 1845
Panorama view of the four-year old town of New Plymouth from Mount Byron Domain, Octavius Place. Painted by Francis Dillon Bell, 15th February 1845.
Marsland Hill (Pukaka pa) with its bush-covered slopes is in the left middle distance. Mount Eliot (Puke Ariki pa) with the New Zealand Company's Resident Agent's house, offices, and signal mast is on the right overlooking the Huatoki estuary.
Before the establishment of the Port Taranaki, passengers and cargo were unloaded by surfboats from ships anchored offshore. The service operated from the beach near the Huatoki. The boat sheds and a surfboat appear beneath the signal mast while the signal man and surfboat coxswain's house is tucked under the hill alongside the estuary.
The Maori kainga (village) of Kawau can be seen on the near bank of the Huatoki Stream. A little to the left of Kawau is the long, low roof of the Company Store on the James Lane-Devon Street corner.
New Zealand Company surveyor Charles Brees is reputed to have been present at the time Bell painted this work, and a similar lithographed view appears in his 'Pictorial Illustrations of New Zealand' (1847).
This is one of five New Zealand watercolours discovered in France about six years ago. They had apparently been in the possession of a member of the Bell family who maintained connections with France.
One other of Bell's watercolours of New Plymouth is known. It was also painted in 1845 and was reproduced as a print in 1969 (see A66.625).
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