University Of Tasmania

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(dis)Regarding the Savages: a short history of published images of Tasmanian Aborigines

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 23:45 authored by Greg LehmanGreg Lehman
Images of colonial Australia by early artists such as Joseph Lycett are popular with historians as a means of acknowledging Indigenous culture and relationships with land. While some critical discussion may occur about the naivety of the artist’s understanding of cultural complexity and diversity, these images are seldom adequately considered in terms of the foundational role they played in the disempowerment and dispossession of the First Nations that they depicted. Lycett’s images of Van Diemen’s Land in his Views of Australia (1825) may appear as an innocuous record of colonial progress and aspiration in the island colony, but betray a more sinister outlook for the Palawa people whose future they accurately forecast. Greg Lehman will outline some of his recent research on the representation of Tasmanian Aboriginal people by 19th century exploration and colonial artists to reveal a dramatic shift in the visual archive; from celebration of noble savagery by the engravers of Paris, to the proposition of terra nullius that emerged from London.



Aboriginal Leadership


LaTrobe University

Place of publication


Event title

Graphic Encounters

Event Venue

Mebourne, Australia

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Understanding Australia’s past