View of Ipswich from Limestone Hill c.1861
Oil on canvas, 52 x 83 cm
Ipswich Art Gallery Collection. Gift of Mr Les Thomas, 1986

View of Ipswich from Limestone Hill is one of Queensland’s most important historical paintings. Painted only nineteen years after the Moreton Bay region was opened to free settlement, it provides a rare and unique view of early Ipswich during a period of rapid growth and prosperity. The painting records the township’s well known landmarks such as Brisbane Street, which runs through the centre of town past the original Cribb & Foote store, St Paul’s Anglican Church and the Mechanics School of Arts (known today as the Ipswich Art Gallery). To the right, the Bremer River winds along the outskirts of the town past Claremont, a historic late Georgian-style house in the foreground. To the left, the Ipswich Courthouse and Ipswich Hospital may be seen at the foot of Denmark Hill in the distance. William Francis Emery migrated from England to Australia in 1852. After working on the Victorian goldfields, he established himself as an artist in Melbourne. In 1860 he applied to be the official artist on the Burke and Wills expedition, but failing to secure the position he travelled to Queensland in 1861, attracted by the prospect of receiving commissions to portray race horses competing in the Ipswich Christmas Races. During his stay, he painted and exhibited a number of landscapes, which he exhibited and sold locally to finance the trip.