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Lewin: Wild Art is about the life and times of John William Lewin (1770-1819), the first free professional artist to settle in Australia. Arriving in NSW in 1800 from London, Lewin's mission was to collect, draw and publish Australia's natural history for European audiences.
He landed in Sydney a conventional natural history artist, steeped in European traditions, but quickly developed his own unique and lively style. Specimens were clearly located in their natural habitat and strong diagonals animated his compositions. The challenge of confronting the new environment - where he found everything 'contrary to our knowledge in England' - inspired his beautifully observed illustrations, which are undoubtedly Australian.
The State Library of NSW holds the largest, indeed an unrivalled, collection of Lewin's art and books, with some 400 works. He is also represented in other Australian and British collections. This exhibition will bring together, for the first time, Lewin's work from these major collections.
Lewin: Wild Art is a State Library of New South Wales exhibition presented in collaboration with the National Library of Australia.
This exhibition is supported by the National Collecting Institutions Touring and Outreach Program, an Australian Government program aiming to improve access to the national collections for all Australians.