Mr. Deas Thomson

Empire, Sydney

23 July 1855

Mr. Deas Thomson. The following letter has been forwarded to us by Mr. Larnach, and, we doubt not, the friends of Mr. Thomson will he interested in its perusal:-

Rome. 3rd April, 1855. My Dear Sir- I have the pleasure to inform you that, after having made every enquiry at Rome and Florence, I have at length selected Signor Capalti of this place, as the most competent artist to paint the portrait for which funds have been so liberally provided by my friends in England. The price for which I have agreed with him is 120.

The portrait is to be of the seize of nature, and full length. Judging from the specimens exhibited in his studio, I can have no doubt that he will produce an excellent painting, such as I hope will give entire satisfaction to the subscribers. He appears to be an artist of great, talent, and, above all, he manages to impart to his portraits an easy gentleman-like appearance, and what is perhaps not loss to be desired, there is a truly English look about them, which I scarcely hoped to find in the works of a foreign artist.

I think that the subscribers will have nothing to regret that the portrait has not been painted by one of the first London artists, as I do not consider the paintings which he exhibited to me as in any way inferior to the best of this description which I saw at the annual exhibition in London last year. Such are my present anticipations, and I hope they will be realized.

I have not yet had my first sitting, for this being the holy week, Rome is, as usual, filled with English and other foreigners, and he has, therefore, more on his hands than he can get through. When he has made some progress in the portrait, I will write to you again; and it will be necessary that I should draw on you for the amount before I leave Rome, of which I will take care to advise you accordingly.

When at Florence, I was fortunate in meeting with an excellent sculptor, who has admirably executed my bust for the University. The likeness is considered by my family to be excellent, and as a work of art it does him infinite credit.

When I left Florence he had only completed the model in clay, but I have no doubt that when executed in marble the result will be equally satisfactory. I am sure that I have much reason to feel both gratified and flattered by those distinguished marks of the approbation of my fellow-colonists.

We have been enjoying beyond measure the inexhaustible treasures of art which Italy everywhere affords; but especially here and in Florence. They exceed anything that I had hoped or conceived. We have been travelling almost incessantly for the last two months.

This roaming life agrees with me wonderfully. It has quite restored my health; and I hope to lay in such a stock as will enable me, please God, to devote a few more years of labour to the colony.

Will you be so good as to communicate the purport of this letter, as regards the portrait, to Young, with my kind remembrances, and also to any of the other subscribers whom you think would desire to be informed on the subject.

Believe me to be, my dear Sir, yours, very truly, E. Deas Thomson.