The Foundation of Perth 1829

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The Foundation of Perth 1829
The Foundation of Perth.jpg
ArtistGeorge Pitt Morison
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions96.5 cm × 137.8 cm (38 in × 54.3 in)
LocationArt Gallery of Western Australia, Perth

The Foundation of Perth 1829 is a 1929 oil-on-canvas painting by George Pitt Morison. It depicts the ceremony by which the town of Perth, Western Australia was founded on 12 August 1829. Morison painted the work as part of Western Australia's centenary celebrations, and presented it to the Art Gallery of Western Australia in February 1929.[1]

The painting took George Pitt Morison almost eighteen months to research and paint. He studied a number of contemporary accounts of the ceremony, and had access to photographs of the people present. It is generally regarded as an historically accurate reconstruction.[1]

The official ceremony depicted in the image was held on a small hill overlooking the Swan River, in the immediate vicinity of the present Perth Town Hall.[2] As no stones were readily available, it was decided to mark the occasion by felling a tree. The only woman to accompany the party so far up the river from Fremantle, Mrs Helena Dance, was invited to strike the first blow. The Foundation of Perth depicts Mrs Dance holding the axe and about to make the first cut. Immediately to the right of her in the painting is an axe-man, waiting to complete the task. Other people depicted in the work include Lieutenant Governor James Stirling, Captain Charles Fremantle, Commander Mark John Currie, Major Frederick Irwin, Captain William Dance, the Colonial Secretary Peter Broun, Dr William Milligan and the Surveyor-General Lieutenant John Septimus Roe.[1]

The Foundation of Perth 1829 has become an "enduring and influential image" (Gooding 1989) in the history of Western Australia. It was used extensively in both the 1929 centenary celebrations, and the WAY 1979 sesquicentennial celebrations. The painting is often not even acknowledged as a historical reconstruction, and many people have come to accept it as an authentic record of the ceremony.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Gooding, Janda (1989). "'The Foundation of Perth': George Pitt Morison's Persistent Image". In Layman, Lenore; Stannage, Tom (eds.). Celebrations in Western Australian History (Studies in Western Australian History X). Nedlands, Western Australia: University of Western Australia Press. pp. 115–120.
  2. ^ The Jewel of the City at Heritage Perth