The Pleasures of Sketching, Riet River (2 Aug. 1851.)  – Note the artist’s paraphernalia on the ground.  Pencil

Thomas Baines was an English artist and explorer.  Born in England in 1820, Baines was apprenticed to a coach painter at an early age. At the age of 22, he left England for South Africa and arrived in Cape Town in 1848 where he worked for a while as a scenic and portrait artist and later in Grahamstown as the official war artist during the Eighth Frontier War.

Bethany (22 July 1850).  Water-colour.

Thomas Baines is best known today for his detailed paintings and sketches which give a unique insight into colonial life in southern Africa. He is considered as one of South Africa’s most notable artists, describing many historical events, which he meticulously recorded both with brush and with pen.

12th Lancers Forming Camp, Taba Umcheko in the Background (8 Dec. 1851)  Water-colour sketch.

His diaries or journals, published here, were in his own words kept “mainly for the purpose of recalling to my mind the incidents necessary to be remembered in painting from the sketches”. He also made rough notes while travelling, to be written up at leisure, and then rewritten for publication in book form.

Baines was a very knowledgeable man, and very intelligent; he was also a man of imagination. He was, however, untutored. This is evident more in his writing than in his painting. His spelling was weak; his complete ignorance of syntax, combined with the absence of punctuation, often obscured his exact meaning.

Return from the Fight, Waterkloof  (14 Oct. 1851).  Pencil and wash.

This volume from 1850 to 1853 covers a year long Expedition north crossing the Orange and the Vaal Rivers through the Orange Free State up to Potchefstroom in the Transvaal. With the outbreak of the Eighth Frontier War, the most bitter and brutal of the series of Xhosa Wars, Bains was appointed as the official war artist. The volume covers the war that lasted from December 1850 until February 1853.


Your Content Goes Here