Pictures Collections

A guide to finding and using the Pictures collection at the State Library of New South Wales.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visitors are kindly advised that this website includes images, sounds and names of people who have passed.

All users should be aware that some topics or historical content may be culturally sensitive, offensive or distressing, and that some images may contain nudity or are of people not yet identified. Certain words, terms or descriptions may reflect the author's/creator's attitude or that of the period in which they were written, but are now considered inappropriate in today's context.

Key to library resources

Access anywhere with a library card In the Library (or anywhere with a Library card for NSW residents)
Available to access in the library Only in the Library
Publicly available online Publicly available

About the collection

Pictures collections

Our collections date from the eighteenth century to the present day. While many of the works illustrate Sydney and New South Wales, other Australian states and the Pacific Region are well represented.

Collection strengths include:

  • Unique items which tell the story of European colonisation of Australasia and the Pacific. This includes art work from the voyages of Captain Cook and some of the first images made by Europeans in Australia. These are rich in illustrations of flora, fauna and landscapes. There are also significant images of Aboriginal people, depicted by Europeans.
  • Fine collections of nineteenth century watercolours, prints and drawings, by both professional and amateur artists. The Library holds sketches made in preparation for producing finished artworks and finished artworks by artists, such as John William Lewin, Joseph Lycett, S. T. Gill, Eugene von Guerard, John Glover and William Strutt.
  • Many portraits of prominent Australians and families as well as less well-known people.
  • Architectural plans created by private practices and architects in NSW. Represented in the collection are approximately 100 000 plans of a range of architects from the less well known to significant practitioners such as Harry Seidler, Glenn Murcutt and Jorn Utzon's collection of Sydney Opera House plans.
  • About 50 000 black and white art drawings - from early twentieth century Bulletin cartoons through to contemporary political and editorial cartooning.
  • Theatrical stage and costume designs and production images; book illustrations; ship illustrations and aviation images.

Nobby's pier

Nobby's Island and pier, Newcastle, January 23rd, 1820, DG SV1B / 10


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