Born in England, Raper was an untrained artist who joined the British Navy as an able seaman and was promoted to midshipman during the voyage of the First Fleet to Port Jackson. He served on HMS Sirius and was about 20 years of age when he landed in New South Wales.
One of the first artists to record European settlement in Australia, George Raper used his natural talent to draw the flowers, plants and birds he observed in the South Seas.
There were four other artists in the colony at this time; one known only by the name of the Port Jackson Painter, John Hunter, William Bradley and Arthur Bowes. These last three, like Raper, were on military duty.
Raper served under Captain Hunter, sailing with him to the Cape of Good Hope to get supplies for the starving colony and also travelling with him to Norfolk Island where the Sirius was wrecked.
The subjects of Raper's drawings were the birds, flowers and fish of Sydney Cove, Norfolk Island and Lord Howe Island. He also painted landscape views and Aboriginal artefacts.
Extracted from: Jennifer Phipps (1986) Artists' Gardens - Flowers and Gardens in Australian Art 1780s-1980s, Bay Books, Sydney. [consult for source references]