Author:Jessyca Hutchens (University of Oxford)
Paper short abstract:
This paper will discuss a methodology being developed to bring an early colonial image, George Stubb’s Portrait of a Large Dog (1772), into contact with subsequent narratives and histories that followed in the wake of this first European attempt to know, categorise, and represent the Australian Dingo.
Paper long abstract:
Tentative, uncertain, the animal in George Stubb’s Portrait of a Large Dog (1772) appears somewhat set adrift, in a familiar yet dreamlike landscape. One of the first images made by a European of an Australian animal, the painting is considered both a hallmark of zoological discovery and yet profoundly inaccurate – supposedly an Australian Dingo, the creature appears closer to a European fox. Yet the image is arguably also prescient – of a fraught, contested and unstable identity for the Dingo that would follow in the wake of British invasion. This talk will discuss a methodology for bringing this object into contact with aspects of the Dingos lived stories in Australia, as refracted through different disciplines and knowledge systems, Indigenous and settler. In contrast to recent discourse on ‘enlivening’ collections, how might we consider this painting as having always existed in tension with the dynamic lives of its subject.