WFE Liardet "Wilbraham"
48cm x 48cm $250
38cm x 38cm $150
30cm x 30cm $100
All limited to 100 prints
High quality prints on
Hahnemuhle Photo Rag paper (archival)
Postage extra cost (Australia Post)
Wilbraham Frederick Evelyn Liardet
(Born Chelsea, England 17th July 1799 – died Wellington, NZ Mar 1878)
Print on cotton rag of original, 2013 acrylic on canvas portrait, titled ‘Wilbraham’ by Pamela Horsley (descendent of Wilbraham)
Wilbraham was a flamboyant, bohemian character, an Englishman of Swiss-Austrian descent, and descended on his mother’s side from John Evelyn, the 17th Century English diarist. In 1822 he married his first cousin, Caroline Liardet. After squandering his considerable inheritance, on living a gentleman’s life, he decided to chance his fortune in Australia.
The Liardet’s arrived in Melbourne on the William Metcalf in 1839, together with a family of nine children. (Several more were born in Australia). They were en-route to Sydney, however when Wilbraham saw business prospects in Victoria, he impetuously bundled the family off the ship. He bought a life boat to ferry their possessions to shore and he left them camped on the beach in pioneering tents and sailed on with his second son Frederick to Sydney. The one thousand prized merinos that he purchased in Sydney, were sent overland to country Victoria. He later decided the sheep-run was too isolated and dangerous for the family and sold it, without ever seeing it.
He turned the large house he built on Crown land on the beach at Sandridge (now Port Melbourne) into a hotel called ‘Brighton on the Beach’ which became the centre of social life for the growing population of Melbourne. His hospitality was renowned. There were regattas on the bay, horse racing, archery and fishing parties at his hotel. He welcomed rich and poor alike.
Amongst his accomplishments were: building the first pier at Sandridge, running a ferry service to Williamstown in whaleboats, building the track through the bush and then establishing a coaching service to Melbourne, which was extended to the gold fields in the 1850s. He proudly held the contract for the first Royal Mail Service. He was renowned in Melbourne and Wellington, NZ for his meticulous and beautiful little water colour paintings.
Unfortunately Wilbraham’s business skills did not match his enthusiasm and entrepreneurship, and he ended in the bankruptcy court on several occasions. He did not allow setbacks to diminish his enthusiasm for adventure and he always fell back to painting in hard times.
Notable adventures included many sea rescues on the bay with his sons. He came to loggerheads with Superintendent Sir Charles La Trobe for appealing for reserves to be set aside to retain areas of natural beauty, flora and habitat. Wilbraham was an accomplished musician, singer, story teller and water colourist.
Wilbraham and Caroline spent 1863 to 1873 in NZ with sons Hector and St Clere. There they assisted with their son’s Taxidermy business. In the 1870’s, on return to Melbourne when in his 70’s and not long before his death, he began researching and quickly painting historical events of early Melbourne. This lead to writing a history of pre gold rush Melbourne. The work was never published. In 1913 the work was bought by the Library Council (now the State Library of Victoria) from a book seller in London. The manuscript and the 38 surviving watercolours are now held at the State Library of Victoria. Other fine paintings are held in public institutions such as the National Library of Australia, ACT, Mitchell Library, NSW, Ballarat Art Gallery and Turnbull Library, NZ. Today Wilbraham is renowned as the ‘Father of Port Melbourne.
In 1973 an exhibition of the history of Melbourne works was held in Melbourne, and an accompanying book, ‘Liardet’s Watercolours of Early Melbourne’ was published. A quote from the book states “This extraordinary man, by nature an eccentric and gathering many quirks but no moss, returned at his wife’s persuasion to New Zealand”. He died soon after and is buried together with Caroline in Wellington.