The dozen 8½ x 7in (22 x 17cm) sketches on wove paper (two with the watermark 1804) are thought to be by Captain Joseph Swabey Tetley (1778-1828), a colonial naval officer and amateur artist. He was first lieutenant on board HMS Porpoise, the ship that brought Governor William Bligh to Sydney in August 1806.
Two other albums with duplicate examples of these watercolours are held in the Mitchell Library, New South Wales. There are some minor differences between the sets that uphold the suggestion that two are contemporary copies created by Tetley after an original set of drawings once owned by George Charles Jenner (fl.1805-22).
Those offered by Forum on June 9 have no sign of under-drawing and, most notably, the addition of drapery to several of the figures designed to spare the modesty of an early-19th century audience.
The album carries the bookplate of William Rashleigh (1777- 1855) and an ink inscription to first watercolour that reads: Natives of Australia/ by Capt. Tetley taken on the spot. Wm. R. It probably remained in Rashleigh hands until the contents of the Menabilly, near Fowey in Cornwall, were dispersed in the 1940s.
It was later owned by James Stevens Cox, who wrote about the watercolours in an article by the Toucan Press in 1977, and came for sale from his family with an estimate of £4000-6000.