UNKNOWN ARTIST,
CONVICT UPRISING AT CASTLE HILL IN 1804

1804, National Library of Australia

The earliest surviving cartoon completed in Australia is this watercolour sketch of a convict uprising at Castle Hill. While this work was not produced as a print for sale, it deploys many of the conventions of the satirical prints being produced in London at this time. The sketch depicts the events of March 5, 1804, when Major George Johnston led a contingent of infantry in a short skirmish with more than 200 rebel convicts in what is sometimes known as the “Battle for Vinegar Hill”. Proof of the aphorism that history is written by the winners, this sketch provides an account of the battle from the perspective of the colonial authorities. See this work, and the rest of the national collection, in Canberra.