Featuring the orchestra pit of the now demolished Theatre Royal in Adelaide, this exquisite watercolour captures the drama and intimate gestural relationship between the musicians and thier conductor. From a generation of female artists that include the likes of Grace Cossington-Smith and Margaret Preston, Black rebelled against social and familial expectation to pursue a career in art, resulting in a body of iconic Australian prints and paintings.
signed and titled ink by Cazneaux and annotated 'Bondi' in pencil in another hand with numeric stamp verso
29.1 x 18.5cm
This rare vintage photograph of body-surfing from the 1920s is one of the earliest depictions of Australian lads taking to the waves. It is easy to forget that it wasn’t until the 1960s that Australians who didn’t live near the beach were more familiar withpublic swimming pools and certainly less confident and accomplished swimmers than they are today.
“Many visitors (to the beach) contented themselves with paddling, but enough braved the surf in ignorance to keep the life-savers busy and elevate them to the status of bronzed gods”.
Jill White, Dupain’s Beaches, Chapter & Verse, 2000, p. 92.
Another example is held in AGNSW with date ‘1940’ and comment “Dupain said of his day at Manly beach “actions like this have to be anticipated; in this case by me standing out in the surf with camera and waiting for the start. One shot only —I had to be lucky and I was” (Dupain 1986).
This image, along with The Sunbaker (1937), Bondi (1939) and At Newport (1952) is one of Dupain’s most famous and revered images.
synthetic polymer paint and gouache on cardboard on hardboard
105 x 74.6cm
Macquarie Galleries, Sydney;
Purchased from the above, private collection, Sydney
Macquarie Galleries, 1970, cat. 7.
Following schooling in Britain and Switzerland, Fairweather served in the First World War where he was captured and interned in a German POW camp. He passed the time learning to draw. Returning to the Hague after the armistice in 1918, he took up a four-year course of study at the Slade School in London under Henry Tonks, while spending his evenings learning Japanese and Chinese at the School of Oriental Studies at the University of London, which led him to question the primacy of the western visual tradition. During the 1930s and 40s Fairweather lived a nomadic existence, travelling extensively in Canada, China, Indonesia and Australia. From 1949 he also regularly exhibited at Macquarie Galleries in Sydney, where his work impacted local artists, including Tony Tuckson, whose own abstract painting has echoes of Fairweather’s calligraphic style.
By 1969 Fairweather was at the height of his investigations into pictorial abstraction. Composition with Figures is perhaps the finest of these late period works. The painting is an amalgamation of a lifetime of Fairweather’s combined experiences and explorations into art. It is also a celebration of the physical act of painting, which sustained Fairweather in his final years of self-imposed isolation. Drips of paint are visible throughout the work, culminating in a curtain of drips at the bottom of the canvas, which have been left unconcealed by the artist. A central group of figures, reduced to their barest forms and painted in simple cream lines, emerge from Fairweather’s multi-layered background. Using a limited colour palette in shades of navy, umber and cream, typical of this period, Fairweather’s signature layering upon layering of paint offers only hints of a hidden, earthy background.
Composition with Figures was painted on Bribie Island in 1969. This work was featured in the artist’s exhibition at Macquarie Galleries in 1970. In the view of Murray Bail this painting is Fairweather’s “last great painting.”1,2
1. Murray Bail, Fairweather, 2009, Murdoch Books, Sydney, p. 224-225
2. Essay provided by the Art Gallery of New South Wales
John Mawurndjul is one of the most senior artists working in the Maningrida region of Central Arnham Land and one of our country’s leading Aboriginal artists, renowned for his innovative ‘raark’ stye of rhythmic, cross-hatching, derived from the Mardayin ceremony and traditional body painting. Mawurndjul’s innovative treatment of these designs has involved a gradual movement into deeper abstraction and amplification of the shimmering, mesmerising qualities of his layered fine lines and multidirectional bands of colour.
In 2006 the artist was invited to create two original pieces for installation at the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris: these works form part of the very fabric of the building with a breathtaking ceiling by Mawurndjul accompanied by a large column that he painted in the signature style of his Lorrkon or hollow logs.
The collection of Lewis Morely;
Private collection, Sydney
(1) Christine Keeler Seated with Chair, 1963, printed 2011,
C-type photograph printed on Fuji Crystal Archive Flex paper,
edition 48/150, signed in ink in lower margin, 30.5 x 40.6cm
(2) Lewis Morley: I To Eye, T&G Publishing, Sydney, 2011.
Hardcover book with dust jacket, 400 pages with over 270
duotoned and colour photographs; 8.1 x 47 x 36.4cm (box).
(3) Eight-page booklet entitled Lewis Morley: The Hidden
Nude with text by Lewis Morley.
This painting was most likely exhibited in Olsen’s 1969 solo exhibition, The Donemoochin Summer at the Rudy Komon Gallery. Komon was one of the early Woollahra gallerists and supported a great many of the mid-20th century’s most admired Australian artists.
This is a beautiful and warm, contemplative image where the artist has combined both a still life and landscape painting. Olsen would have completed this picture around the summer of 1968 to 1969, when he had retreated to an artist residence in Dunmoochin, in country Victoria.
Femme Sauvage de l’île Van Diemen (Détroit de D’Entrecasteaux). (Dentrecasteaux Strait Tasmania), c. 1802
ink, watercolour and gouache on lightly tinted blue paper
signed lower left, ‘N.m. Petit,’ inscribed with title below image and with further inscription in image upper right: ‘Terre de Diémen.’
20.5 x 20cm
Voyage portfolio of Nicolas-Martin Petit;
Studio of the Baudin voyage artists in Paris;
Thought to be part of the presentation of original artworks from Charles-Alexandre Lesueur to Louis de Freycinet, c. 1815;
Presumed to have remained with the Freycinet family until mid-nineteenth century when recorded as having been presented to the de la Roche St. André family, likely to Pauline de la Roche St. André (1797-1882);
Then by descent through the Suyrot de Mazeau family until recently
This striking and important painting is one of the earliest known works depicting any Aboriginal woman made by a Western artist.
Confidently signed by Petit, the superb work – painted during the 1802 Tasmanian visit of the French “Voyage aux Terres Australes” under commander Baudin – depicts a seated Tasmanian woman in three-quarter profile, her legs crossed in the way noted by many of the French diarists, her hair cropped short and with a kangaroo skin cloak loosely draped over her right shoulder. The woman has been depicted without any scarification or ornamentation of any kind and looks directly towards the viewer with an air of self-assurance. Unusually for Petit, the scene includes an evocative background display of local foliage, dominated by subtle brown and blue-green tones which show how adept the artist was at capturing the vagaries of Australian light. Nicolas-Martin Petit (1777- 1804), born into a family of fan-makers, had precocious talent which led him to train with the great neo-classicist painter Louis David and his obvious abilities meant that he quickly established himself as a well-respected member of the Baudin expedition.
Although the woman is not named (most of the Tasmanians were not in fact named by Petit, an oversight he appears to have regretted, given how careful he was to record most of his sitters in Sydney), this is one of the Petit portraits with an unusually precise caption in his hand, noting that it shows a woman of the “île Van Diemen” at the D’Entrecasteaux Strait, which is likely to mean that the precise locality of the scene was near the observatory established by the French at North West Bay between 19 January and 5 February 1802, marking this out as a rare scene taken on the Tasmanian mainland itself. The French at the observatory, and particularly the officers in charge, Bernier and St. Cricq, made frequent comment on their friendly interactions with a large familial group, who were clearly intrigued by their visitors. Little is known about Petit’s time on the voyage, although François Péron does mention him several times in the official account, describing how quickly and with what facility he was able to sketch, noting that Petit had a charming habit of calming the nerves of his sitters with tricks and simple sleight of hand.
It is a remarkable exercise to consider just how few original portraits of Aboriginal men and women in the earliest phase of the colonial era actually exist. The earliest known are some very simple sketches in ink completed on the east coast during Cook’s Endeavour voyage in 1770 by Sydney Parkinson (British Museum), followed by four more fully-realised portraits made on Cook’s third voyage at Bruny Island in January 1777, by the Swiss artist John Webber, including one very well-known portrait of a woman with close-cropped hair holding her child, one of two Tasmanian portraits later engraved for the official account (1784).
Even after the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788, most of the known works, and certainly the most artistically significant, were done by two main artists: the mysterious Port Jackson Painter, who contributed a striking group of studies and half-length portraits (Natural History Museum, London) and Thomas Watling, the convict artist better known for natural history and topographical works, but who made a number of thoughtful portraits of Aboriginal life (Natural History Museum, London). It is a startling thought that the visual history of early European contact with Aboriginal people is in fact dominated by published engravings, with all of the problems in distortion and transmission that implies.
While in any case no early artist surpasses Petit as regards the sensitivity of his work, in fact any early portrait of an Australian Aboriginal painted from life is very rare, especially in private hands; even more so in the case of Tasmania, known works are particularly scarce, because apart from Webber’s portraits the only other early works are a handful of sketches by the artist who sailed with d’Entrecasteaux, Jean Piron, held in the Musée de l’Homme (Paris), and later used by engravers as the basis of some plates in the voyage account published by Labillardière (1798).
Petit’s portraits are rendered even more significant by the fact that after the Baudin expedition’s return to Europe, there was another hiatus in any such work being made or commissioned: this hiatus is notable enough on the mainland and almost complete in Tasmania, where nothing of substance was added by any artist until Thomas Bock arrived in 1824 (and even then, his important Aboriginal portraits date more from the 1830s). In terms of Aboriginal portraiture, the work of Petit is not only important because of the recognised fidelity and warmth of his paintings, but is also of historical consequence as he was one of only a select handful of early artists to make any such study.
Signed lower left: Tom Roberts, inscribed reverse upper left: To my Darling/ Gwen on her/ 20 Birthday/ from Mother: inscribed reverse lower left: Dec 19 1929, inscribed reverse right: 17044/ 2
8.4 x 19.8cm
Mrs Winifred Onslow Dunban, Sydney (prior to 1915); by descent, Gwendolen Onslow Dunban (on her 20th birthday) 1929;
Deutscher Fine Art Exhibition, Melbourne, Nov/Dec 1988 Cat. No. 24, 1989;
Private collection, Sydney since 1988
Exhibition and Sale of Paintings by Tom Roberts, Previous to his leaving Australia, Society of Artists of New South Wales, Vickery’s Chambers, 76 Pitt Street, Sydney 14 November 1900, cat 28, At Watsons Bay, 1 ½ gns.
The location of this painting is Watsons Bay, specifically Camp Cove. It fits stylistically into a group of Harbour panels (of Circular Quay, Rose Bay, Kirribilli and Sirius Cove) executed by Tom Roberts in the late 1890’s.
A forty year old Tom Roberts married Lillie Williamson in Melbourne in early 1896; in January 1898 their son Caleb was born. After the marriage Roberts left the makeshift Curlew Camp at Sirius Cove, which he had shared with Arthur Streeton and others since coming up from Melbourne in 1891 and took up residence in Paul Street, Balmain. He continued however, to work and teach from a city studio in Pitt Street.
Roberts executed two historical bush-ranging subjects in the mid 1890’s, Bailed Up and In a corner on the Macintyre c1894-95. After 1895 he worked on the large droving theme, A mountain muster (c1897-98) but his small portrait studies and rare (compared with Streeton) Sydney Harbour views on un-primed cedar panel, such as, At Watsons Bay c1898, are arguably the most appealing works he created at the time.
The painting has a charming provenance – it was given to the previous owner by her mother, Winfred Onslow Dunban, on her 20th birthday in 1929.