Recently, one of our social media fans sent us a message about a very interesting panoramic sketch of False Bay, believed to have been drawn between 1777 and 1778. The vantage of the sketch looked as though it was drawn from somewhere on our estate. Our interest piqued, we immediately investigated – and it was!
The artist, Robert Jacob Gordon (born in 1743), was a Dutch explorer, soldier, artist, naturalist and linguist of Scottish descent.
After university he accepted a cadetship in his father’s regiment and soon obtained the rank of lieutenant, followed by that of captain in 1774. Being somewhat bored with his military duties he obtained leave to visit the Cape of Good Hope, where his first appearance was as a soldier on furlough. He was sent to the Cape to be the captain of the garrison by the Chamber of Seventeen of the Dutch East India Company (DEIC) in 1777.
During his time at the Cape between 1777 and 1786, he undertook five journeys into the interior, for which detailed journals were kept. He was responsible for setting up a collection of maps of the countryside, and drawings of its scenery, landscape, inhabitants, flora and fauna.
The location from which he drew this sketch is still accessible on foot from Waterkloof today, where the original vantage marker can be seen. The Dutch East India Company’s crosses, carved into the rock when they made maps in the area, are also still visible.
We took a walk to this very spot after researching more about Robert’s life and took our own photographs, as a tribute: