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Conrad Martens and the Squatting Families of the Darling Downs

  • Marion Diamond


Conrad Martens visited the Darling Downs during the summer of 1851–52, where a small group of squatting families played a crucial part in the success of his journey. In the short term, they provided him with hospitality as he moved from property to property; in the longer term, he hoped, they would become the main purchasers of his paintings. In this article I shall give a brief description of the Darling Downs pastoral elite, and look at the personal connections that existed between Martens and many of these people: connections that explain why Martens was received so hospitably during his travels, and why he had a reasonable expectation that they would patronize his work. In addition, though, there were also structural reasons relating to the changing economic and social climate of the early 1850s that help explain why these families subsequently bought his paintings.



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1 Barnes, C-E.B. (Canning Downs), personal communication with the author, 25 Mar. 1995.

2 Charles Macarthur and Robert Gore married sisters: see French, Maurice, A Pastoral Romance: The Tribulation and Triumph of Squatterdom (Toowoomba: USQ Press, 1990), 174.

3 Christopher Rolleston's marriage occurred after the Leslie brothers had left the Downs. However it illustrates the closeness of his association with the Leslies that he met Catherine Leslie during an invited visit to the Leslie family home in Scotland, while on leave in 1853–54.

4 Newstead House was built by Patrick Leslie, but held in the name of his father William Leslie Snr.

5 Buckley, Ken, ‘Gipps and the Graziers of New South Wales, 1841–6’, parts 1 and 2, Historical Studies 6. 24 (1955): 396412; Historical Studies 7. 26 (1956): 178–193 is the classic account of this tale. See also Maurice French, A Pastoral Romance, 15–19.

Conrad Martens and the Squatting Families of the Darling Downs

  • Marion Diamond


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