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image icon 'Klemsic, a village of German settlers near Adelaide', 1844-45

'Klemsic, a village of German settlers near Adelaide', 1844-45
Art Gallery of South Australia


This is a watercolour on paper, dated 1844, by George French Angas (1822-86). The work measures 23.6 cm x 32.7 cm and depicts a German settlers' village near Adelaide at that time. The view is of a street of closely grouped houses, each with a steeply pitched, thatched roof and whitewashed walls. A simple belfry mounted on one building identifies it as a church. A goat and some poultry scratching in the dirt road can be seen at the left of the work, while at the centre is a man standing close to a loaded hay wagon drawn by two long-horned bullocks. A woman, wearing a long blue skirt and white apron and cap, stands in the right foreground near a fence made of bark and roughly split timber.

Educational value

This resource is useful because it:

  • is a work by George French Angas - Angas was the eldest son of George Fife Angas (1789-1879), the wealthy founder and chairman of the South Australian Company, and a key figure in the establishment, in 1836, of the colony of South Australia; George French Angas was a naturalist and a skilled illustrator who arrived in Adelaide in 1844 when the colony was just seven years old; he immediately began a series of inland and coastal trips, sketching images of Indigenous Australians and their customs, the landscape and native fauna, and Adelaide scenes; his intention was to use these sketches as the basis for a series of (lithographic) print albums, which would provide British people with information about the new colony, its natural features and progress
  • depicts an early German settlement near Adelaide - the view shows the western half of the village street of Klemsic (now the Adelaide suburb of Klemzig); the village was laid out in the traditional Prussian style on fertile land beside the River Torrens; it was one of several villages (including Hahndorf and Lobethal) in SA which, from 1844, were populated almost entirely by immigrants from the Prussian provinces of Brandenburg, Posen and Silesia; the street shown in this work corresponds to Andrea Way in present-day Klemzig
  • references the foundation history of German settlement in SA - the second building from the left with its bell (belfry) is Pastor Kavel's Lutheran church; in 1836, Kavel's 'Old Lutheran' congregation, at Klemzig in Brandenburg, Prussia, was being persecuted because it refused to accept new forms of worship imposed by King Frederick William III); in looking for a place where he and his congregation could worship freely, Kavel met with George Fife Angas, who was sympathetic to his plight and chartered ships and arranged advances on passage money; the first groups to arrive in SA settled on land belonging to Angas to form the village then known as Klemsic
  • provides detailed information about the architecture and design of an early colonial German settlement in Australia - the settlers included carpenters and joiners skilled in working with timber, particularly in the construction of slab huts; the end wall of the church shows a characteristic half-timber section; the walls of all the dwellings were made of whitewashed pisé (rammed earth or clay) and the roofs were thatched with hay or rushes laid onto supporting beams; the steep pitch of the roofs (around 45 degrees) created attic space for bedrooms or storage
  • illustrates aspects of early colonial village design and daily life - each dwelling facing the street was sited, in accordance with tradition, at one end of a long thin allotment that incorporated space for a produce garden and domestic animals; the hay wagon is a traditional European design; the image contains many examples of the use of local timber.