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Oswald Brierly (1817-1894), played a signifigant part in the developement of southern New South Wales. As a young man he was a trained artist based at Cowes on the Isle of Wight where he met Benjamin Boyd, a member of the Royal Yacht Squadron. He came to Australia with Boyd on his yacht WANDERER in 1842.  Boyd was an entrepreneur who established a settlement on Twofold Bay, southern New South Wales as well as other enterprises. Brierly became the manager of this settlement as well as Boyd's pastoral interests and he established a flourishing whaling station at Boyd Town on the southern side of the bay. He designed and had built a lighthouse, known as Boyd's Tower, still extant, as well as a stone hotel named the Seahorse Inn (after an ill-fated steamer belonging to Boyd) also still extant. Boyd became bankrupt in 1848 and Brierly moved to Sydney and joined the survey ship H.M.S. RATTLESNAKE under the command of Captain Owen Stanley. In 1850 at the completion of the voyage, the intention was for H.M.S. RATTLESNAKE to return to Britain. Owen Stanley unfortunately collapsed and died, probably as a result of an earlier fall. Brierly was offered a passage back to England on H.M.S. MAEANDER under the command of Henry Keppel, later admiral, returning to Britain after being stationed in the South East Asia, mainly Singapore. They sailed via the Pacific to Mexico, loading specie for the Crown, sailed south and went through Magellan's Straits and into the Atlantic and made their way north to England. Keppel was instrumental in furthering Brierly's career with recommendations helpful advice.

After returning, Brierly continued his painting and became the official marine artist for the initial naval actions in the Baltic for the War against Russia, later known as the Crimean War, when the seat of the war moved to the Black Sea. Brierly became a favourite of Queen Victoria and in1874, became her designated marine artist. He accompanied her son, the Duke of Edinburgh on a world cruise on H.M.S. GALATEA, passing Twofold Bay on their way into Sydney. Later he was knighted.

Brierly was a water-colourist, painting highly-finished scenes of action and adventure, highlighted in body colour.

This painting has all of Brierly's hallmarks; action, drama, scale and body-colour finish accompanied with a story and background worthy of a book with-in itself.

A pasted manuscript note in Brierly's hand to the back of the painting is self explanatory:


A 'Williwa" in the Straits of Magellan

The violent Squalls known as Williwes - or hurricane Squalls - come rushing down the steep sides of the mountains, and burst out from the Valleys of Patagonia with incredible fury: a Vessel caught in one of them is on her broadside with scarcely a moments warning - every sail strained to bursting - yards bending - topmasts straining over to leeward, and threatening every instant to go over the side

H.M.S. Maeander (Captain the Honb.le Sir Henry Keppel) is shown in one of these Squalls which struck her in a narrow part of the Straits

The near point - is part of Tierra del Fuego with the high land of Patagonia on the other side

O. W. Brierly

8 Lidlington Place

Oakly Square

Williwaw is a nineteenth century British seaman's term in common usage for a sudden blast of cold air descending to sea level, especially in the Magellan's Straits.

Captioned on mount:

H.M.S. Meander during a squall in the Straits of Magellan. O. W. Brierly


Signed lower left.

Watercolour with gouache highlights.

570 x 1060 mm. (Image).

Original frame.


H. M. S. MAEANDER in Magellan's Straits. Oswald Brierly. [1851].

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