Augustus Baker Peirce
“Augustus Baker Peirce - a sketcher, scene-painter, professional photographer,
entrepreneur, theatrical performer and sailor, was born in West Medford, Massachusetts, on 7 October 1840, son of George A. Peirce, a merchant, and Jane, nee Nye. Peirce sailed before the mast in the Oriental from New York in September 1859, jumping ship on reaching Port Phillip about the end of the year. Thus began more than thirty years of peripatetic adventuring in Australia which he later recorded in his picaresque autobiography published posthumously in 1924. This book, which describes such unlikely career changes as scene-painter to snake-oil salesman and travelling photographer to riverboat captain, at first reading seems fantastic and hence unreliable; nevertheless, where Peirce’s information has been able to be checked it has proved basically correct, the major flaws being his idiosyncratic spelling of names and his faulty recall of dates. Even his spelling of his own name was erratic and some of his paintings are signed Pierce or Pearce.” Dictionary of Australian Artists to 1870, by Joan Kerr, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1992, pp. 614-6
By the 1880s, when he painted this group portrait of the Melbourne Hunt Club for the Chirnside family of Werribee Park and Mount Rothwell, he was living in Geelong.