Albert Henry Fullwood

View from Balmoral, 1885

Mosman Art Trail Sign 8 located on path between Bather’s Kiosk & Balmoral Rotunda.

Listen to an audio recording, read by Claudia Karvan, to learn more about this artwork. 

Around the time of the first centenary of British settlement, during an economic and demographic boom, colonial Australians began to reevaluate their relationship with the land to forge a nationhood divergent from that of the distant British Empire. Newly arrived in Australia in 1883, young English-born artist Albert Henry Fullwood found employment as one of five commercial black-and-white illustrators in the art department of a newspaper published to celebrate the centenary of European occupation, The Picturesque Atlas of Australia. 1 Charged with recording geographically precise views of contemporary Australia, Fullwood travelled extensively and faithfully illustrated the changing ways of life and emerging cultural identity of its settler inhabitants. Also amongst those recently employed at the Atlas was Melburnian artist Julian Rossi Ashton, with whom Fullwood would travel and paint on the harbour in a plein-air impressionist style, the earliest instances of this activity in the Mosman area. 2 The artists of the Atlas all met and camped regularly at the artist’s camp on the northern end of Edwards Beach, Balmoral, founded by American cartoonist Livingston ‘Hop’ Hopkins. 3

With a dramatic composition dominated by gestural blue, green and brown reflections in the seawater of the foreground, View from Balmoral was painted on the beach, looking out over the northern edge of Rocky Point Island, out across Middle Harbour towards the Heads in the distance. Fullwood has allowed the unpainted grain of the wood panel to shine through in certain areas, revealing his alignment with Australian impressionists and their infamous lack of “finish”. A five minute walk from Hopkins’ camp, this view conveys the dense atmosphere before an afternoon thunderstorm. 4 At high-tide, the sandbar between Edwards Bay and Hunters Bay is a thin curve leading the eye towards a group of women and children strolling and fossicking amongst the rocks. Today this stretch of sand is covered by a concrete bridge dating from the beautification works of the promenade in the late 1920s. 5 Blending into the blue grey cliffs of the Heads and the white peaks of surf are several sailboats and passing ferries, belching out smoke into Fullwood’s pale pearlescent sky. Using an illustrative format designed for engraving reproduction in the Atlas, one that would characterise most of Fullwood’s works from this period, View from Balmoral has a deep foreground with sunlit geographical landmarks and small figures placed in the distance, these mostly with their backs turned, absorbed in their activities.

Although Fullwood, like Ashton, was gainfully employed as an artist by the illustrated press,  he stayed at the semi-temporary artist camps on the foreshore of Mosman. They provided an attractive escape from the polluted air of Sydney city, and a chance to live a raw bush lifestyle and share the spirited camaraderie with like-minded progressive artists. At a time of chronic housing shortages in Sydney, and the indigenous Cammeraygal tribe all but driven out, colonies of tent dwellers were established at Balmoral and Little Sirius Cove. Fullwood, encountering financial difficulties around this time joined Roberts and Streeton at Curlew Camp, where rent was affordable before joining his family at ‘Yebrand’, a Mosman boarding house in 1895. 6

1 Pearce, B. and Slutzkin, L. (eds.), Bohemians in the Bush: The Artist’s Camps of Mosman, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1991, pp. 22 - 23
2 ibid, p. 37
3 Souter, G., Mosman. A History, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1994, p. 69
4 Werskey, G., Picturing a Nation. The Art and Life of A. H. Fullwood, Newsouth Publishing, University of New South Wales, Sydney, 2021, p. 73
5 Balmoral Self-Guided Heritage Walk, Mosman Council, November 2005
6 Hansen, D., ‘Albert Henry Fullwood, The Old Whaling Station, Mosman’s Bay, Sydney, 1899’, Deutscher and Hackett, Melbourne, May 2023, pp. 80 - 81

Text by Lucie Reeves-Smith.

Private collection 
Thence by descent 
Private collection 
Sotheby’s, Sydney, 26 August 2003, lot 156 
Balnaves Collection, Sydney, acquired from the above 
Mosman Art Gallery, Sydney, a gift from the above in 2011 

Werskey, G., Picturing a Nation. The Art and Life of A. H. Fullwood, Newsouth Publishing, University of New South Wales, Sydney, 2021, p. 73,  pl. 12 (illus.) 

Photo credit Jacquie Manning

Additional Specifications

(1863 - 1930)
oil on wood panel 
25.0 x 33.0 cm 
signed lower left: A. H. Fullwood/ 85