William von Blandowski (1822 -1878).
Born of Polish aristocracy, Blandowski travelled in Australia between 1849 and 1859 – in the Adelaide S.A. region and extensively through central to NW Victoria, overlapping often with Mitchell’s journey 18 years previous. Blandowski’s approach was as an anthropologist, interested in daily life, traditions and environment. The images he captured on his journeys, collecting botanical specimens, photographing and drawing, show in exquisite detail the day to day living and activities of a wide variety of Indigenous clans and groups. From early photographs and drawings, he created composite images of the indigenous cultural landscape, and peoples within it. The honesty which he displays in his depiction gives new insights, into a little known view of Indigenous people in early colonial times.
Blandowski’s images have only recently again come to light, being translated from German to English, and re-published in 2010, from the only known complete copy of Blandowskis published work ‘Australien’(1862), held in the Berlin State Library. This work is unique, and provides a whole new and important area of study, in the records of early Australia.
Clearly Blandowski was familiar with the works of Major Mitchell as there are significant likenesses between the two artists’ works, including actual images from Mitchell’s published journals. Both being extraordinarily skilled observers and draftsmen, they each worked closely with their Printmakers, ensuring an accurate and quality result, to their satisfaction.
Although each cast a different emphasis through their images and observations, the insights gained through close examination, reveal fascinating views into the Indigenous cultural landscape, ecology, and explorers travails.