Precious 1820s Point Piper watercolour of John Piper naval villa sells

Precious 1820s Point Piper watercolour of John Piper naval villa sells
Precious 1820s Point Piper watercolour of John Piper naval villa sells

Title Tattle noticed the Joseph Lycett water-colour that shows Point Piper in the 1820s sold last week at Sotheby's auction for $219,600.

The colonial Point Piper ­landscape, Eliza Point showing Captain Piper’s Naval Villa and Garden (picture above against a black background), was painted by the convict artist who lived between 1755 and 1828.

It is a watercolour and gouache on paper 40.6 x 54.7 cm

It had been listed with an estimate $100,000 to $150,000 ranged, knocked down at $180,000 totalling $219,600 with buyer's premium.

The watercolour, with eucalypt framing, was acquired by the present owner at auction in 1973.

Its provenance was given as Sir Reginald Marcus Clark whose estate sold it in 1954.

Before Clark it was owned by Dr. W. Gerald Holt of Melbourne.

It was exhibited in the Joseph Lycett: Convict Artist, Museum of Sydney, 2006; and National Library of Australia, Canberra, 2007.

It was the last known watercolour of Sydney Harbour remaining in private ownership by the renowned colonial artist Joseph Lycett.

Listed by Sotheby’s Australia, the scene captures the essence of early settler colonial Australia with the burgeoning township of Sydney visible in the middle distance. The vista is westward from the North Shore, near present day Hermit Point between Rose Bay and Vaucluse. Shark Island is in the foreground and the double

On the left rocky promontory of Eliza Point (now Point Piper) sits John Piper’s naval villa shown nestling below its curious cruciform fenced garden.

The spirit of Captain John Piper, the pioneer spendthrift, is still prevalent on the Point Piper peninsula.

Just as Captain Piper's Henrietta Villa was the colony's showpiece - costing 10,000 pounds and taking four years to build in the 1810s - there have been plenty of big spenders of recent times.

Title Tattle recalls the contemporary boom began when Brian Johnson's high-tech "Bang and Olufsen" house - taking two and a half years to build and possibly $10 million to complete - became Sydney's then most noteworthy mansion in the mid-1980s.

But Point Piper's spendthrifts have not always led charmed financial lives.

The ominous portent was set by Captain Piper. Henrietta Villa was sold in 1827 in a mortagee sale to distiller Daniel Cooper for 5,000 pounds shortly after he resigned in fiscal controversy from his Bank of NSW chairmanship. It has long since been demolished.

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.


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