Sydney in Watercolour

Australian National Maritime Museum

Explore the working harbour of last century in these detailed watercolour panoramas. 

Muriel Mary Sutherland Binney (1873-1949), was an amateur artist and inventor. In 1907, Binney painted a 20-metre-long panorama of Sydney Harbour entitled ‘Sydney Harbour foreshores at sunset’. She produced the work for the First Australian Exhibition of Women’s Work in October 1907.

Binney used a variety of working and leisure craft to produce a balanced, harmonious and eye-catching panorama of harbour life. As a panorama it is unusual, completed at a time when most other examples of this genre were photographic.

The frieze is a rare document of Sydney Harbour in the first half of the 20th century depicting a variety of working and leisure craft indicative of the time. The focus is on the harbour life of boats and navigational markers rather than the landforms or buildings that surround it.

Although painted for an exhibition of women’s work, the frieze stands alone as an exceptional example of the aesthetic and technical skill Binney had in an era when maritime painting and panoramas were genres traditionally dominated by men.

Australian National Maritime Museum
Credits: Story

Curator: Daina Fletcher.
Producer: Kate Pentecost.

Credits: All media
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