Australian Colonial Artists.


Joseph Lycett (b.1774?), convict and artist, was born in Staffordshire, England. By profession a portrait and miniature painter, he was convicted of forgery at Salop Assizes on 10 August 1811 and sentenced to transportation for fourteen years. He sailed in the transport General Hewitt,

In May 1815 Sydney was flooded by hundreds of skilfully forged 5s. bills drawn on the postmaster. They were traced to Lycett, who was found in possession of a small copper-plate press. He was convicted of forgery and sent to Newcastle. Discipline there was strict and punishments were severe, but Lycett’s lot appears to have become comparatively easy after Wallis became commandant in June 1816. Lycett drew up the plans for a church which Wallis projected and, when it was built in 1818, he painted the altar piece; he is said to have also produced the three-light window which still survives in the bishop’s vestry of Newcastle Cathedral.

He received a conditional pardon on Wallis’s recommendation. In 1819-20 he executed many private commissions. In February 1820 Governor Lachlan Macquarie sent to Lord Bathurt drawings, including a large view of Sydney. It is generally believed that the absolute pardon which the artist received on 28 November 1821 was a reward for these.






24463 McPHEE , John :
JOSEPH LYCETT ,Convict Artist.
Historic House Trust of N.S.W.,2006.

Large square 4to.pp.285. Profusely illustrated in colour & black and white .Previous owners name on half title else a Fine Copy in hardcover in Fine dust wrapper.

Lycett painted some of the earliest and most important works of the colonies of Tasmania and NSW between 1815 and 1822,This volume illustrates his life and works       $550.00 AUD

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Joseph Lycett Convict Artist by John McPhee.



19942 LYCETT , Joseph :
Thomas Nelson,Melbourne,n.d.,

Oblong 4to.maps 50 p colour plates and accompanying text. Facsimile of the Brett copy published in London in 1824.

Very good in mock leather binding in Very good pictorial card slip case.
SBN 17 001965 9.

$100.00 AUD

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Views In Australia or New South Wales & Van Diemens Land Delineated by Joseph Lycett


Lycett, whose ‘habits of intoxication’ were ‘fixed and incurable’, according to Commissioner Bigge, had possibly married in the colony, for in June 1822 he advertised that he intended to leave accompanied by his two daughters. They sailed together in the Shipley in September.

Lycett had already planned to publish in England a book of Australian views. There were to be twelve sets, published monthly, each with two aquatint views of New South Wales and two of Van Diemen’s Land, with descriptive letterpress, and a supplement with maps of both colonies. By permission the series was dedicated to Bathurst. The parts began to appear in July 1824 at 7s. plain and 10s. 6d. coloured, and when all had appeared they were bound together and sold asViews in Australia (London, 1825). Lycett announced that he intended to publish a natural history series along similar lines, but the project fell through.

Nothing is known of the rest of his life. A pencilled note in a copy of his Views in the Mitchell Library, Sydney, states that, when he was living near Bath, he forged some notes on the Stourbridge Bank. On being arrested he cut his throat, and when recovering in hospital he tore open the wound and killed himself. However, this is not confirmed.

Lycett was obviously a quick and prolific artist, and a large body of his work survives

Citation details

Rex Rienits, ‘Lycett, Joseph (1774–1825)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 19 May 2016.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

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