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DateOriginal Topic
16th April 2005George French Angas
By Robert Jones
Reading through E.A.Ritter,s "Shaka Zulu" for the umteenth time led me to write this letter.
Who was this man---he must have had a tremendous insight into the Zulu way of life in the 1840,s and 50,s.
He painted many portraits of individuals at that time---where are the originals now and did he leave any written account of his time in Zululand?
If he did I,m sure it,s a hell of a good read!
19th April 2005Peter Ewart

Only just seen your enquiry tucked down here!

Neither of my copies of Ritter's work contain any illustrations, nor acknowldegments to Angas, but his paintings do appear in a number of works on early Zululand and Natal - usually in black & white.

One publication which reproduces at least eight works by Angas in glorious colour is Louis du Buisson's "The White Man Cometh" - not an academic work but an account of the (mostly) 1820s & 1830s in du Buisson's own words - and opinions.

The illustrations, being reproduced in colour, are certainly superb and are well known through their reproduction in many other books, although they actually date from c1847/8/9 because on his return from two years in S Africa he appears, in 1849, to have published them in "The Kafirs Illustrated." Du Buisson acknowledges the Killie Campbell Africana Library in Durban, so presumably the originals are there. Someone on this forum will surely know? I don't know how many he painted nor how many appeared in his 1849 book but according to his entry in the DNB "several of the original drawings ... were bought for the print-room of the British Museum." Some of the paintings may even appear in miniature on the KCAL website? They are certainly my favourite early illustrations of the amaZulu.

Although Angas was from a Geordie family I suspect he is probably better known Down Under than in this country, as he produced a lot of sketches and water colours of his time in South Australia (his father had been one of the founders of that colony) and in NZ.

He went back to Australia in the 1850s & published more of his work from the gold fields but died in London in 1886 aged 64. You are right that he must have been a remarkable man - his introduction to "The Kaffirs Illustrated" apparently includes: I have had more real enjoyment of existence ... during the many months I have passed among Kafirs and New Zealanders, than I ever had amid the anxieties and conventionalities of a more refined life."

This is possibly reflected in the lack of material wealth he possessed. He left £293, compared with his father's near £900,000. Many of his works remain in Australia, where there is also published material on him. Incidentally, his DNB entry here runs to over 600 words - if you'd like a copy, let me know.

20th April 2005Robert Jones
Many thanks for such a detailed answer---I was beginning to think no one had heard of this man!
His black and white drawings in my copy of "Shaka Zulu" are superb if only for their authenticity---this must have been exactly as the Zulu were clothed around this time.
Incidentally, the offer of his DNB is very much appreciated and if you can find the time I would love a copy.