Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria
Born in London into an artistic family, Lewin came to Australia to record the ornithological and entomological life for a British patron, Dru Drury. Lewin's father, William Lewin, was the author of a seven-volume work, Birds of Great Britain (1789–94).
Lewin arrived in Sydney in 1800 and the following year received Governor King's permission to accompany James Grant on his survey expeditions, first to Bass Strait and then to the Hunter River. Lewin and his wife were granted a small farm near Parramatta but by 1808 they were living in Sydney where the artist advertised his services as a portraitist.
Lewin's first book, published in London in 1805 was Prodromus Entomology, Natural History of Lepidopterous Insects of New South Wales. A further book, Birds of New Holland was published in 1808. An 1813 edition of this publication was the first illustrated book to be engraved and printed in Australia.
To provide him with secure employment, Governor Macquarie appointed Lewin to the position of city coroner in 1814. The artist also accompanied Macquarie and made drawings during the construction of the historic new road across the Blue Mountains. Macquarie also commissioned Lewin to draw the plants collected by the surveyor-general, John Oxley, in his explorations of the country beyond Bathurst, the Liverpool Plains and the New England District.
As well as his natural history paintings, Lewin also executed landscapes and portraits of Aboriginal people.
Extracted from: Jennifer Phipps (1986) Artists' Gardens - Flowers and Gardens in Australian Art 1780s-1980s, Bay Books, Sydney. [consult for source references] [The published text has been corrected online to give the name of the Surveyor-General as John (rather than "Henry") Oxley]