IT MAY NOT be the best painting in the Art Gallery of South Australia, and it may not be the most valuable. But one of the gallery’s most historically significant paintings is an enormous canvas by the nineteenth-century Adelaide artist Charles Hill, entitled The Proclamation of South Australia 1836. Painted decades after the fact, it shows the gathering of South Australia’s earliest white settlers near the beach at Glenelg, all still living in tents and all come to hear the Proclamation. This is a real historical document, one that officially announced to the settlers that, with the arrival of His Excellency the Governor on this hot Adelaide day aboard the Buffalo, the colonial government of His Majesty’s new province had been formally established. Subsequently published in the second issue of the South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register, on 3 June 1837, the Proclamation exhorted them:
…to conduct themselves on all occasions with order and quietness, duly to respect the laws, and by a course of industry and sobriety, by the practice of sound morality and a strict observance of the Ordinances of Religion, to prove themselves worthy to be the Founders of a great and free Colony.
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