Nathaniel Plimer (attributed) , Undated but circa 1803-1805 A Miniature Portrait of Lieutenant-Coloniel Thomas Makdougall Brisbane (1773-1860), Governor of New South Wales 1821-1825,

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Lot 119Y
Nathaniel Plimer
Undated but circa 1803-1805
A Miniature Portrait of Lieutenant-Coloniel Thomas Makdougall Brisbane (1773-1860), Governor of New South Wales 1821-1825,

AU$ 50,000 - 70,000
US$ 34,000 - 47,000
Nathaniel Plimer (attributed) , Undated but circa 1803-1805
A Miniature Portrait of Lieutenant-Coloniel Thomas Makdougall Brisbane (1773-1860), Governor of New South Wales 1821-1825, his hair powdered and wearing a white shirt, scarlet coat with gold epaulettes and black stock
Engraved verso, "Lieutt Coll Thoms Brisbane"
on ivory, framed with a 9 carat yellow gold mounted
7 x 5.3cm (2 3/4 x 2 1/16in).


  • Provenance:
    Australian Book Auctions December 2008, lot 13
    Private Collection, New South Wales.

    Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane (1773-1860)
    Born Ayrshire, Educated University of Edinburgh and the English Academy, Kensington. In 1789 he was commissioned an ensign in the 38th Regiment and served in Flanders as Captain from 1793 to 1798 and in the West Indies as a major from 1795-1799. From 1800 to 1803 he commanded the 69th Regiment in Jamaica as a lieutenant -colonel, earning high praise from the governor, Sir George Nugent. He served in England from 1803-1805. Ill health caused him to spend time in Scotland where he pursued his interest in astronomy. He built the second observatory at Brisbane House and was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1810. In 1812, at the Duke of Wellington's request he was promoted to brigadier -general. In 1815 he was created a K.C.B. and a K.C.H. in 1817. Between 1815 and 1820 he commanded a division of the army in the occupation of France, commanded a brigade in the American war, and was commander of the Munster District in Ireland. He applied for position of Governor of New South Wales in 1815, but the position was not then vacant. In 1820, on Wellington's advise he was appointed, arriving in the colony on 7 November 1821 and on 1 December 1821 took over from Governor Lachlan Macquarie.

    "Bribane's policies for the colony were usually sensible answers to pressing problems based on Commissioner Thomas Bigge's report and the instructions derived from it, modified by his own impressions" (ADB) He improved the system of land occupation and security, preferring to grant land to those who had the inclination and ability to use it productively. His appointment of additional surveyors improved the system of land occupation and security. He encouraged the establishment of new settlements as far afield as the Moreton Bay district, with the capital, Brisbane, bearing his name. The instructions issued from London in 1825 on the disposal of crown lands bore close similarites to the system Brisbane had adopted in New South Wales.

    He strove to make the colony self sufficient and did much to correct the abuses of convict labour by introducing a system whereby convicts were hired for a fee. His improvements in liberalising society extended from the establishment of a Legislative Council, reforming the legal system by establishing trial by jury, improving economies of government expenditure, currency reform and allowing the establishment of an independent Australian newspaper by William Charles Wentworth, thus bringing to an end the control of government officials with the Sydney Gazette. The Colonial Office prevented his move to encourage and improve education by quashing his appointment of a Director- General of all public schools. Despite the lack of trustworthy men to assist him in doing the work of government, the conflicts and difficulties he incurred with the leading colonists, the corruption that marked much of the party-riven society of the colony at that time and the corrosion that marked his relationship with the Colonial-Secretary Goulburn, he succeeded in realising many improvements in the state of the colony and was regarded by many colonists as a quietly distinguished man and his administration benign.

    Nathaniel Plimer (1757–1822)
    The elder son of a Shropshire clockmaker, Nathaniel left home with his younger brother Andrew (1763-1837) and travelled around the country with a group of gypsies, making their own brushes and decorating caravans before reaching London in 1781. Nathaniel found employment at Henry Bone's house as a servant before joining Andrew as a pupil of Richard Cosway. He exhibited at the RA between 1787-1815 and at the Society of Artists between 1790-1791. He worked from 31 Maddox Street in London, married and had four daughters: Georgina, Mary, Louisa and Adela. Like his brother Andrew, Nathaniel stopped signing his work after 1789 (D. Foskett, Miniatures Dictionary and Guide , 1987, p.620).

    For a rare self portrait of the artist, see, Bonhams, Fine Portrait Miniatures, London, 30 May 2013, lot 111 and for another example of his work depicting an officer, see, Bonhams, Fine Portrait Miniatures, London, 23 May 2007, lot 91

Saleroom notices

  • Additional Provenance: Important UK Collection of English & European miniatures Thence Australian book auctions 2008 Private Collection, NSW Please note: This miniature reaches the thresholds of a Class B Australian Protected Object (APO) under Parts 5 and 9 of the Nation Cultural Heritage List. This means that, if purchased by an overseas collector, an application to export the object under the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act, 1986 (PMCH Act) must be sought.
Nathaniel Plimer (attributed) , Undated but circa 1803-1805 A Miniature Portrait of Lieutenant-Coloniel Thomas Makdougall Brisbane (1773-1860), Governor of New South Wales 1821-1825,
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