Department of Lands Building StatuaryPrint Page Print this page

Hovell: 27-April-2017
Hovell: 27-April-2017

Photographs supplied by Peter F Williams

The statuary commemorates explorers and legislators who made a major contribution to the opening up and settlement of the nation.

An integral feature of James Barnet's design for the building was the provision of 12 niches on each façade which were to be filled with portrait statuary. In March 1890, at the urging of Premier Sir Henry Parkes, Barnet nominated the names of 48 men 'who have devoted themselves to the exploration of Australia'. He also suggested that allegorical figures representing the theme of exploration, such as Geology, Perseverance and Agriculture, might be placed in the niches on the upper level of the building, should his original suggestions prove unsuitable. Most of the 48 were rejected as being 'hunters or excursionists'. 

After much deliberation, 10 statues were ordered from Scottish-born sculptor William Priestly Mackintosh in partnership with James Fillans. MacIntosh had trained under Lucien Henry in Sydney. Other sculptors commissioned to create statuary for the building included Tommaso Sani, James White and Alexander Sherriff. A further five statues of politicians were added in 1901, including a statue of Sir Henry Parkes carved by Nelson Illingworth. 

Only 23 of the 48 niches were filled with statues between 1890 and 1901. Although there was a proposal in the 1930s to commission statues for the empty niches that represented 'pioneers of aviation' including Bert Hinkler and Charles Kingsford-Smith, the remaining niches were not filled. 

In 2009 a new statue was commissioned for the Lands building, depicting James Meehan (1774–1826), an Irish-born ex-convict who rose to the rank of Deputy-Surveyor of Lands within 12 years of arriving in Australia. This statue is set into one of the niches on the Loftus Street elevation.


Address:22 - 33 Bridge Street, Department of Lands Building, Sydney, 2000
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -33.863609
Long: 151.209945
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Sculpture
Monument Theme:Landscape
Designer:William Priestly Mackintosh,James Fillans, Tommaso Sani, James White & Alexander Sherriff
Source: MA,ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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