February 18 - 24, 2024: Issue 614


Flora Of Coastal New South Wales: 1920 To 1944

Plectranthus parviflorusGomphocarpus fruticosus (Narrow-leaf cotton bush), Pultenaea ferruguiea var. deanei (Bush Pea), Palm Beach, New South Wales, January 1922 [picture]

Part of the collection: Flora of coastal New South Wales, 1920-1944.
Author: Gostelow, E. E. (Ebenezer Edward), 1866-1944
Source of Acquisition: Donated by Mr. C.G. Gostelow, 1969.
Online Version: National Library of Australia digitised item; Gostelow, E. E. (1922). 
Plectranthus parviflorus, Gomphocarpus fruticosus (Narrow-leaf cotton bush), Pultenaea ferruguiea var. deanei (Bush Pea), Palm Beach, New South Wales, 1922 Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-135337857

Ebenezer Edward Gostelow (1866 - 1944)

Born 18 Dec 1866, Sydney, NSW, died 9 May 1944, Burwood, NSW
Ebenezer Edward Gostelow was the eldest of eight children. His parents were Ebenezer Edward Gostelow, a building foreman with the NSW Department of Education, and his second wife Martha Taylor. Ebenezer "Gosterlow" senior had migrated from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, England to Sydney, NSW aged 6, with his parents and siblings in 1848, on board the "Equestrian". The birth of Ebenezer junior was indexed under the name "Gostklow" (NSW 1867 registration number 168).

Mr. Gostelow was a country school teacher at Broken Hill and Harden in NSW, having started as an teacher's assistant in 1883. He was later the headmaster of the Alma Public School in South Broken Hill. 

Roaming the state of New South Wales he soon acquired a keen interest in all forms of nature study and, while imparting his love of bird life to his classes with coloured chalk on the blackboard, discovered his natural gift as an artist. Without formal training, Gostelow embarked on a project to paint as many wild flowers and birds as he could.

In 1890, Gostelow married Ada Mary Finney with whom he had three sons and a daughter. His youngest son, Clifford, shared his father's passion for nature study and on his father's death he inherited the collection of native flora paintings.

In September 1920 the Barrier Field Naturalists Club held a wildflower show in the technical college. One of its purposes was to promote the study and protection of the area's wildflowers. On display were wildflowers collected by school children in the surrounding hills, as well as 150 botanical paintings by E.E. Gostelow. These 150 paintings were the highlight of the show.

On his retirement from teaching, Gostelow completed a task which he had begun earlier of painting all the known species of Australian Birds, each within its own habitat. He also started painting butterflies. 

His skill and integrity were well known and respected to the extent that the Australian Museum, amongst other institutions, loaned him stuffed birds from which he worked. His completed collection of 730 mostly life size paintings, illustrating the male and the female of each species with the flora native to their habitat also contained the museum's registration number and explanatory notes.

The complete collection of over 800 flora and fauna paintings is now held in the Pictures Collection, National Library of Australia, Canberra. The bird paintings were bequeathed to the Library on Gostelow's death. Clifford Gostelow donated his inherited collection of flora paintings to the Library in 1969. The collection is represented in the book For the Love of Nature: E.E. Gostelow's Birds and Flowers (NLA 2010).

Gostelow, E. E. (1931). The flame robin (Petroica phoenicea) Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-134853409

The collection is now, like the Flora of Broken Hillin the National Library of Australia. Many of Mr. Gostelow's images have been digitised by the National Library. A number of his bird pictures have also been included in two National Library poetry publications. Twelve Gostelow paintings are used to illustrate a revised version of Judith Wright's Birds (2003).

This Issue a few examples of his works from the Flora of coastal New South Wales ... run below - which poses the question; how many can we still spot in their season in these places? How many are listed as Endangered, how many are listed as Critically Endangered?

Ebenezer Edward Gostelow died suddenly on May 9 1944 (aged 77 years) at Burwood, NSW, before he could complete his next project of painting all of Australia's butterflies. His death is indexed in 1944 under "Gastelow".

GOSTELOW.-In fond memory of Ebenezer Edward Gostelow. who passed away May 9, 1944. Inserted by his loving wife and children. Family Notices (1945, May 9). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 18. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27934426

  1. Australian National Herbarium Biography
  2. Main text extracted from: Jennifer Phipps (1986) Artists' Gardens - Flowers and Gardens in Australian Art 1780s-1980s, Bay Books, Sydney. [consult for source references]

Gostelow, E. E. (1921). Boronia pinnata (Pinnate Boronia), Daviesia ulicifolia (Gorse Bitter Pea), Podolobium ilicifolium (Prickly Shaggy Pea), Sydney Region, August 1921, Long Bay, Concord West and Homebush Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-135344575

Gostelow, E. E. (1921). Blandfordia grandiflora (Christmas bell), Grevillea sericea (Pink spider flower), Sydney Region, New South Wales, November and December 1921; Hawkesbury River and Campbell's Hill, Cooks River Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-135339295

Gostelow, E. E. (1922). Cryptostylis longifolia (Duck orchid), Lomatia ilicifolia (Native holly), Cryptostylis erecta (Hooded orchid) December 1922 Jervis Bay. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-135337216

Gostelow, E. E. (1923). Cassytha glabella (Devils twine), Caladenia carnea (Pink orchid), Eucalyptus corymbosa (Bloodwood), Sydney Region, New South Wales, Feb to March to Sept; Rhodes, Cronulla and Hornsby. 1923 Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-135337376

Gostelow, E. E. (1923). Eucalyptus longifolia (Woolly butt), MyrtaceaeStrathfield, March 1923 Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-135335878

Gostelow, E. E. (1923). Caleana major (Cockatoo orchid), Pultenaea elliptica, Viminaria denudataOctober 1923 Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-135337538

Gostelow, E. E. (1924). Doryanthes excelsa (Gigantic lily), AmaryllideaeSutherland, September 1924 Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-135336035

Gostelow, E. E. (1940). Angophora intermedia DC syn. Angophora floribunda (Sm.) Sweet, MyrtaceaeLindfield, New South Wales, Lindfield November 1940 Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-135345001

Gostelow, E. E. (1941). Banksia ericifolia (Heath-leaved banksia) ProteaceaeLindfield, June 1941 Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-135338499

Gostelow, E. E. (1942). Banksia serrata (Large honeysuckle), Proteaceae, Lindfield, January 1942 Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-135343774