sketcher, writer and civil servant, eighth son of John Prinsep and Sophia Elizabeth, née Auriol, was born on 31 March 1803 in London. Educated at home, he entered Haileybury College in 1819 to train for the Bengal civil service and in April 1821 was appointed legal 'writer’ (clerk) to the East India Company. He arrived at Calcutta in July 1822 and during the next five years made rapid progress within the civil service, being appointed commissioner of Pergunnah Palamow in 1827. Five of his brothers were also in India: William, George, Henry Thoby, James and Thomas; signed and unsigned drawings by various members of the family are in the India Office Library. Augustus Prinsep married Elizabeth Acworth Ommanney ( Prinsep ) at Calcutta on 6 June 1828. On medical advice, he left Calcutta in March 1829 on a recuperative voyage to Singapore, where his wife and baby daughter, Augusta Emily, joined him.

After another bout of illness and two months in Batavia (Indonesia), Prinsep and his family left in the Flora on 17 August, travelling via the Western Australian coast to Van Diemen’s Land. They landed at Hobart Town on 22 September. Prinsep applied for a land grant but was unsuccessful and left the colony on 17 March 1830 in the Medway bound for Calcutta. He died at sea on 10 October later that year on yet another recuperative voyage in the Duke of Lancaster . His letters written during the voyage to Van Diemen’s Land and his six months’ residence there were edited by Elizabeth Prinsep and published posthumously in 1833 as The Journal of a Voyage from Calcutta to Van Diemen’s Land . The first edition carried the notice: 'should these letters be approved, the Editor may be induced to publish a Series of Views, taken on the spot, illustrating most of the scenes described in the foregoing pages’.

The Views were subsequently issued in two parts, the first containing six plates, the second four and a Panoramic View of Hobarton . They were reviewed most favourably in the Atlas in 1833: 'Mr. and Mrs. Prinsep have united their powers in the production of these drawings, which are extremely well lithographed. They are all delightful subjects, delightfully treated’. At least two were taken from sketches by Elizabeth Prinsep but the remainder – apart from two sketches of Indian scenes drawn by Captain Thomas Prinsep, Augustus’s brother -were apparently drawn by Prinsep (not all are signed). The original wash drawing for Hobart from the Hotel , probably by Augustus, is at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. In one of his letters from Hobart Town published in the Journal , Prinsep wrote: 'If I can persuade myself to commence sketching, I must send home some attempts to enable you to judge of a landscape, second only to that of Switzerland’.

Staff Writer
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