Level 3 Mortlock Wing State Library of South Australia North Terrace Adelaide SA 5000

Marquette and framed portrait of explorer John McDouall Stuart

Described as Australia’s greatest inland explorer, John McDouall Stuart led six expeditions across Australia, becoming the first European to cross the continent from south to north through the centre and returning without loss of life. Stuart’s six trips from 1858 to 1963 solved the global geographical riddle of what was in the centre of Australia and answered the question of the presence of an inland sea.

RGSSA Statue of Stuart

This marquette represents an important Australian exploration individual and is unique. In art and design a marquette is a small preliminary model or sketch, from the French word maquette.  It is small enough to be used in any location, unlike the final statue.

James White (1861-1918) created the plaster model used in 1904 to make the marble statue of noted explorer John McDouall Stuart, which is located in Victoria Square, Adelaide (marble on a granite plinth). White, apprenticed to a London plasterer, studied modelling at South Kensington, London. He also made anatomical models. White arrived in Sydney with his wife about 1884 and created many bronze and marble sculptures for Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne, and Adelaide.

The original contract for the statue was granted to WJ Maxwell who modelled in clay but died before the Carrara marble arrived from Italy. This model was given to the Society who coordinated the fundraising with others and was assisted by a Government subsidy of £1,200. 

The still surviving members of Stuart’s final expedition boycotted the unveiling of the statue as they felt there was no likeness to their esteemed leader.

RGSSA Portrait of Stuart

The Society's portrait is a copy of a large, original painting which dominates the Council Chamber of the City of Adelaide’s Town Hall.  It depicts Stuart with the RGS of London Patron’s Medal, his sextant and map of the route. This is a framed replica of the original, which was restored in 2009. 

The Observer reported on 17th January 1863 that a life size portrait would be funded by public subscription and would hang in the Legislative Council Chamber or some other prominent public building. The Observer further reported on 17th June 1863 the portrait had been completed, lacquered and hung in the Council Chambers of the Adelaide City Council, pending its future placement.

Correspondent of the period, Hugh Kalyptis, said "I am told that the artist Irvine, who was a man of great sensibility, had hard work to catch Stuart in a mood to sit, and he earned his fifty guineas by patience and perseverance."

Mr. Irvine, the artist, had an exhibition of his paintings at the Royal Society for the Arts on 26th January 1863, and painted, inter alia, a portrait of Thomas Magarey MP. (Magarey was one of Adelaide’s leading political figures at that time.)

The story about the copy of this painting is on the back of the framed image. This replica of the painting was donated by Society member Glen Woodward. Other replicas of the original painting are held by the John McDouall Stuart Society’s Stuart Collection and by the McDouall Stuart Lodge in Alice Springs.

RGSSA catalogue number and location: R87B (marquette)

Both items are on display in the Library of the Society.