Guide to the Papers of Conrad Martens


MS 6864

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Collection Summary

Conrad Martens
Papers of Conrad Martens
Date Range
Collection Number
MS 6864
0.9 metres (4 ms boxes + 1 folio)
Language of Materials
National Library of Australia


Scope and Contents

The reference library of any great man is of exceptional value to the historian and scholar. To be able to establish beyond question the direct influences and subsequent ideas derived from this personal source lends an insight into the mind not possible in any other way. Conrad Martens' position in Australian art is undoubtedly important, both as a practising artist and an art teacher of great influence. This collection illustrates his employed techniques and thus the developing style of 19th century landscape painting in Australia.

Conrad Martens' idea that landscape art should have a theoretical justification was influenced particularly by Alexander von Humboldt who in turn influenced the writings of Ruskin, and books by Ruskin are to be found in Conrad Martens' personal library. That Martens believed that a talent for drawing and painting was enhanced by a study of theoretical writings on the subject can be deduced from his own comments in a "lecture upon landscape painting delivered at the Australian Library 1856" and first published from the manuscript in the Mitchell Library in Lionel Lindsay's Conrad Martens, the Man and his Art, Sydney, Angus & Robertson, 1920. In this lecture he acknowledges the value of ideas gained from a reading of John Burnet's Practical Treatise on Painting and Sir Joshua Reynolds' Discourses, as well as stating that "the Liber Studiorum" of Turner is I should say a book to be studied with the greatest advantage". Martens also quotes Professor Hart in his Royal Academy Lectures of 1856, thus indicating that he kept very much up to date with the latest information in his field.

Martens had been taught painting by Copley Fielding, one of the best known English watercolourists in the first half of the 19th century, whose technique specialised in broad washes and free picturesque treatment of landscape. During his voyage with the Beagle, Martens probably absorbed a great deal of the scientific methodology from the members of the expedition, as had artists like Hodges and Westall on previous voyages. It also appears that close contact with the scientists, including Charles Darwin, caused him to become interested in botany, meteorology and geology in different parts of the world, and this new awareness of the elements comprising a landscape had a decisive effect on the composition of a painting.

Lionel Lindsay in his book on Conrad Martens summarises the importance in Martens' work of a thorough theoretical background: "Conrad Martens was a produce of the thought and taste of the days of his youth. He had by heart Reynolds' Discourses, the Composition and Light and Shade in Painting of John Burnet and the Landscape Maxims by John Varley; the Turnerian elevation of theme was part of his mental texture ... only when his work is seen in its due relation to those ideas which were his currency can we form a just estimate of his art".

Conditions Governing Access

Please refer to the collection's catalogue record ( for the access conditions.

Conditions Governing Use

Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions. For such material, written permission to publish must be obtained from the copyright holder(s). Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.

Preferred Citation

Items from this collection should be cited as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Papers of Conrad Martens, National Library of Australia, MS 6864, [box number and series and/or file number]'.

Item Descriptions

Bemrose, William: Manual of Wood Carving .. by William Bemrose, jun, with an introduction by Llewellyn Jewitt. London (n.d.) (Item) - Box 1

Quarto, 15 full page plates, 16 pages of advertisements for Bemrose's wood carving tools at end, cloth.

Presentation copy inscribed to "Conrad Martens esq. from W. (?) B. Clarke, 5 August. 1871" (Possibly William Branwhite Clarke).

NLA Bib ID: 2775249

Burnet, John: A Practical Treatise on Painting. In three parts consisting of hints on composition, chiaroscuro and colouring. The whole illustrated by examples from the Italian, Venetian, Flemish and Dutch schools. London, 1828 (Item) - Box 1

Three parts bound in 1 vol., quarto, 9 black and white etched plates (part 1), 8 black and white etched plates (part 2), 8 etched and handcoloured plates (part 3), half diced morocco, marbled boards.

Signed by Conrad Martens on t/p.

NLA Bib ID: 2774828

Cunningham, Allan: The Lives of the Most Eminent British Painters, Sculptors and Architects. Four volumes. London, John Murray, 1829-1830 (Item) - Box 1

Vols. I and III, duodecimo, engraved portraits and other illustrations, half calf, gilt, marbled endpapers. Vol. 1 signed by Conrad Martens on t/p.

NLA Bib ID: 2772697

Da Vinci, Leonardo: A Treatise on Painting, by Leonardo da Vinci. Faithfully translated from the original Italian ... by John Francis Rigaud ... to which is prefixed a new life of the author ... by John Sidney Hawkins. London, printed for J. Taylor at the Architectural Library, High Holborn, 1802 (Item) - Box 1

Octavo, engraved frontispiece and 22 full page illustrations, diagrams and other illustrations in text, half calf, marbled boards.

Signed on front fly leaf by Phillip P. King, 1816.

NLA Bib ID: 2776051

Eagles, Rev. John: The Sketcher. Edinburgh and London, William Blackwood and Sons, 1856 (Item) - Box 1

Quarto, decorated cloth. Originally published in Blackwood's Magazine. Signed "C. Martens" on t/p. Include one page of annotations by Martins (?).

NLA Bib ID: 2774356

Eastlake, Charles Lock: Materials for a history of oil painting, London, Longman, Brown, Green Longmans, 1847 (Item) - Box 1

Large octavo, 32 pages of advertisements at end, embossed cloth.

Signed "Conrad Martens 1853" on title page. Manuscript page references on back title page in Conrad Martens' hand. Loose page of manuscript notes by Conrad Martens, referring to the text.

Ellis, William: Polynesian Researches during a residence of nearly eight years in the Society and Sandwich Islands. Second edition, enlarged and improved. Vol. 1. London, Fisher, Son Jackson, 1831. Dedicated to Directors of the London Missionary Society (Item) - Box 1

Octavo, folded map drawn and engraved by J. & C. Walker, illustrations in text throughout, cloth. Prospectus announcing publication of 4 vols. in this set. Half t/p with engraved vignette and frontis. facing of "Pomare".

Signed by Conrad Martnes on t/p.

NLA Bib ID: 1262384

(Field, George) Chromatics or, an essay on the analogy and harmony of colours. London, 1817 (Item) - Box 2

Quarto, diagrams, cloth.

All diagrams have been handcoloured according to codes provided, probably by Conrad Martens. Some plates have manuscript titles added in pencil by Conrad Martens.

NLA Bib ID: 2781141

Field, George: Rudiments of the Painter's Art; or a grammar of colouring ... London, John Weale, 1850 (Item) - Box 2

Octavo, 8 plates, cloth with label pasted on front.

Manuscript title has been added to spine. Frontis. has been handcoloured.

NLA Bib ID: 1257586

Field, George: Chromatography; or a treatise on colours and pigments and of their powers in painting, 1835 (Item) - Box 2

Large quarto, two engraved plates, half calf, marbled boards.

Signed by Conrad Martnes on title page. Colour scale on plate 1 (frontispiece) has been handcoloured (Probably by Martens). Manuscript note entitled "Primary colours and their opposites" has been tipped into back fly leaf. Five "eyes" from peacock feathers have been placed between front fly-leaves.

NLA Bib ID: 1257558

Gilpin, William: Observations on the River Wye (Item) - Box 2

Octavo, 17 full page aquatint and wash illustrations, quarter calf, marbled boards. Title page missing. Annotation to drop title. Signed J. Wilson at head of page 1. Manuscript annotations giving title of each illustration in Conrad Martens' hand.

NLA Bib ID: 696983

Gilpin, William: Remarks on Forest Scenery, and other woodland views, by the late William Gilpin. Edited by Sir Thomas Dick Lauder, Bart. In two volumes. Edinburgh, London Dublin, 1834 (Item) - Box 2

2 volumes, octavo, full page black and white etched illustrations throughout, cloth. Both volumes signed by Conrad Martens on title page. Manuscript note by Conrad Martens on back endpaper of vol. II.

NLA Bib ID: 1259259

Hayter, Charles: An Introduction to Perspective, Drawing and Painting in a series of pleasing and familiar dialogues between the author's children; illustrated by appropriate plates and diagrams ... the fourth edition, considerably enlarged and improved. London, Kingsbury, Parbury and Allen, 1825 (Item) - Box 2

Octavo, frontispiece and 22 black and white plates, half morocco.

Signed "C. Martens" on title page. Two watercolour colour charts, probably by Conrad Martens tipped in, facing pages 227, 229.

NLA Bib ID: 1261693

Hoare, Prince: An Inquiry into the rerequisite cultivation and present state of the arts of design in England, by Prince Hoare. London, Richard Phillips, 1806 (Item) - Box 3

Octavo, engraved frontispiece by Blake. Pencil drawing (copy of a head by Raphael) tipped onto front endpaper.

NLA Bib ID: 1272924

Howard, Frank: Colour as a means of art, being an adaptation of the experience of professors to the practice of amateurs. London, Joseph Thomas, 1838 (Item) - Box 3

Octavo, 18 plates with watercolour highlights, cloth.

Signed by Conrad Martens on title page. Manuscript notes and markings by him throughout. Note at end of final chapter states in part "If you want a good moonlight effect take it at the full moon after rising". A printed poem "Painter's Regret" has been pasted onto front endpaper.

NLA Bib ID: 2796053

Huber's Natural History of the Honey Bee. A new edition with a memoir of the author and appendix. London, printed for Thomas Tegg, 73 Cheapside, 1841 (Item) - Box 3

Octavo, five folded plates, engraved title page with coloured vignette, cloth.

Signed by Conrad Martens on title page. Manuscript notes by Conrad Martens on back endpaper comparing seasons in England and New South Wales in relation to bee-keeping.

NLA Bib ID: 2793587

Hundertpfund, Libertat: The Art of Painting restored to its simplest and surest principles. Translated from the German of Libertat Hundertpfund. London, David Brogue, 1849 (Item) - Box 3

Octavo, 24 coloured plates, 1 folded table, cloth.

Signed by Conrad Martens on title page. Manuscript notes by him in text.

NLA Bib ID: 2794497

Landscape illustrations of the Waverley novels with description of views. London, Charles Tilt, 1832 (Item) - Box 3

2 vols., octavo, engraved illustrations throughout, half calf.

Both volumes signed "Conrad Martens" on title page. Volume 1 has a pencil sketch by Conrad Martens pasted on to front fly leaf.

NLA Bib ID: 2794568

Miller, Hugh: Scenes and Legends of the North of Scotland or the traditional history of Cromarty. Edinburgh, Thomas Constable, 1857 (Item) - Box 3

Octavo, 4 pages of advertisements at end, cloth.

On verso of title page are the following inscriptions: "Jane Carter, May 5 1858, with A. E. Leigh's love"; "Transferred to Rebecca Martens by her affecte. G. Mother Jane Carter August 29 1859".

NLA Bib ID: 1272946

Nichol, J.P.: A cyclopaedia of the Physical Sciences ... Second edition, revised and enlarged. London and Glasgow, Richard Griffin, 1860 (Item) - Box 3

Octavo, 5 fold. plates, 4 fold, maps, woodcut illust. in text, half brown morocco, gilt panelled spine.

Signed by Conrad Martens on title page.

NLA Bib ID: 2795198

Northcote, James: Fables, original and selected, by the late James Northcote. Second series, illustrated by two hundred and eighty engravings on wood. London, John Murray, 1833 (Item) - Box 3

Octavo, illustrations in text throughout, cloth.

Signed by Conrad Martens on title page.

NLA Bib ID: 1117421

Opie, John: Lectures on painting, delivered at the Royal Academy of Arts, London ... also a letter on the proposal for a public memorial of the naval glory of Great Britain. London, M. Arnold, 1832 (Item) - Box 4

Octavo, engraved frontispiece, quarter calf.

Signed "C. Martens" on title page. Pencilled markings and ms. annotations by Martens on several pages of the text. Small pencil sketch of a landscape on front endpaper.

NLA Bib ID: 2822917

Report of the Commissioners of the Fine Arts, 1862 (Item) - Box 4

Ruskin, John: The elements of drawing in three letters to beginners ... with illustrations drawn by the author. Second edition. London, Smith Elder Co., 1857 (Item) - Box 4

Octavo, illustrations in text throughout, cloth.

Signed on title page : "Conrad Martens 1858". Pencilled notes by Martens on several pages of text, and back endpaper. He disagrees with many of the statements made by Ruskin viz. "Oh Mr. R. how can you say so"; "all this is nonsense".

NLA Bib ID: 1290085

(Ruskin, John): Modern Painters volume 1 containing parts I and II, by a graduate of Oxford. Third edition revised by the author. London, Smith Elder Co.,, 1846 (Item) - Box 4

Quarto, front board and spine missing.

Signed by Conrad Martens on title page. Manuscript notes by Conrad Martens on several pages, back endpaper. Pencil diagrams on back fly leaves.

NLA Bib ID: 2821905

WEBB, Daniel: An inquiry into the beauties of painting; and into the merits of the most celebrated painters, ancient and modern ... the fourth edition ... London, J. Dodsley, 1777 (Item) - Box 4

Octavo, full polished tree calf.

NLA Bib ID: 2812664

Willis, N.P.: Pencilling by the Way. Brussels, Belgian Printing and Publishing Society, 1837 (Item) - Box 4

2 vols. bound in 1, duodecimo, half morocco.

NLA Bib ID: 1293423

Wornum, Ralph N.: The epochs of painting characterized; a sketch of the history of painting, ancient and modern ... London, G. Cox, 1847 (Item) - Box 4

Duodecimo, illustrations in text, full morocco.

NLA Bib ID: 1295256

1 leaf, ms. in Conrad Martens' handwriting, being notes on Ruskin's analysis of Claude's technique as discussed in Ruskin's The Elements of Drawing (Item) - Box 4

2 leaves, formerly folded, ms. in Conrad Martens' handwriting, being notes on Ruskin's Modern Painters vol. 3 (Item) - Box 4

1 leaf, ALS from Edmund Blacket to Conrad Martens, dated Sydney, November 20 1862 (Item) - Box 4

Receipt and acknowledgment of donation from Conrad Martens to the Macarthur Memorial Fund, dated, November 5 1867 (Item) - Box 4