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Article

(b London, c. 1843; d Perth, Western Australia, May 8, 1879).

Australian watercolourist, Soldier, colonist and businessman of English descent. The son of the watercolour painter John Absolon (1815–95), he served in the Queen’s Rifles and exhibited paintings and sketches with the Society of British Artists before first visiting Western Australia in 1869. Shipboard watercolour sketches and many studies of the bushland environs of Perth, such as From the Verandah at Northam, (1869–70; see Kerr, p. 5) recorded this first journey. He returned to England to marry Sarah Bowles Habgood, the niece of Thomas Habgood, an influential colonist, and daughter of Robert Mace Habgood, who divided his business and shipping interests between London, Fremantle and Geraldton. The couple returned to Perth, Western Australia, where Absolon helped manage the family’s mining and mercantile interests. The firm of R. W. Habgood & Co. of Fremantle and London was known thereafter as Habgood Absolon & Co. He adapted his painting methods to an impressionistic manner that captured the harsh light and sparsely vegetated antipodean landscape. He also represented the London Art Union in Western Australia from ...

Article

Pamela Bell

(b Rome,1850; d Rome, July 2, 1881).

Italian painter and art teacher active in Australia. He trained at the Accademia di S Luca, Rome. His conservative style emulates his teacher Alessandro Capalti’s use of drape, column and rhetorical gesture, as seen in Capalti’s portraits at the University of Sydney. On Bishop James Quinn’s advice, Anivitti emigrated to Brisbane in 1871 with the sculptor Achille Simonetti. In 1875 he was appointed first teacher of painting and drawing at the Art Training School of the New South Wales Academy of Art, founded in 1871. Among his 30 recorded pupils were medal winners Frank Mahony (1862–1916), artist for the Picturesque Atlas of Australasia, whose drawing of Anivitti is at the Mitchell Library, Sydney, and A. J. Fischer, staff artist for the Illustrated Sydney News and Bulletin.

Anivitti’s duties at the Academy included curatorship of a collection of paintings acquired by the Academy with government funds. These paintings became the foundation of the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, whose antecedents were in the Academy....

Article

George Tibbits

(b Bendigo, Victoria, Aug 16, 1865; d Melbourne, June 22, 1933).

Australian architect. He served articles with William Salway (1844–1902) in Melbourne and practised alone from the late 1880s to the early 1930s, with a circle of clients and friends drawn from varying levels of Melbourne society. As well as a commitment to the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement, he aimed to create an Australian idiom and saw architecture as an art rather than a profession. His talent for sketching and his flair for writing on architecture were also recognized at an early stage in local building journals.

His earliest designs show the influence of H. H. Richardson, whom he greatly admired, but the Viennese Secession may have influenced the Springthorpe Memorial in Kew cemetery, Melbourne (1897). His well-known houses at 32, 34 and 38 The Eyrie, Eaglemont (1902–3), are free and decorative adaptations of a half-timbered, roughcast and Marseilles-tiled idiom fused with an Arts and Crafts approach, which he continued to develop in examples such as the Norman Macgeorge house at Alphington (...

Article

Miles Lewis

(b Ireland, April 26, 1791; d Stanley, Tasmania, Dec 4, 1852).

Australian architect of Irish birth. He trained in the London office of the architect Charles Beazley and worked for five years for John Rennie, before spending eight years in architectural and engineering work in Ireland. In 1826 he was appointed Civil Engineer for Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania), and he arrived at Hobart Town in 1827. He served as colonial architect as well as civil engineer for eleven years, during the first nine of which he was responsible for all government buildings, including military and penal works. His design for the Ordnance Stores, Hobart (1834), shows the austere and megalomaniac stamp of late 18th-century Neo-classicism, but only the less important sections were built, in 1834–8. His Customs House, Hobart (now Parliament House), begun in 1835 and completed by James Blackburn, shows the influence of the Greek Revival, and his monument to Lieutenant-Governor David Collins (1837–8) is Greek in the manner of John Soane. His churches show Regency and Tudor characteristics and are less sophisticated. Archer’s finest engineering work was the bridge on the Midland Highway at Ross, designed on principles derived from Rennie’s work, and enhanced by the fantastically carved voussoirs executed by convict stonemasons....

Article

J. N. Mané-Wheoki

(b London, 1832 or 1833; d Christchurch, New Zealand, Feb 22, 1883).

New Zealand architect of English birth. In 1862, after a lengthy apprenticeship in Melbourne, Australia, Armson arrived in New Zealand. He spent two years (1862–4) in the engineering department of the Otago provincial government, Dunedin, and from 1866 to 1870 he practised in Hokitika on the West Coast. Christchurch, where he finally settled in 1870, nurtured the most productive phase of his career. Inspired by Victorian London’s palazzo-style clubs and Venetian Gothic office blocks, Armson transformed the commercial heart of Christchurch. In Hereford Street alone he designed 12 substantial buildings, but only the Fisher Building (1880), a wedge-shaped structure in Italian Gothic, survives. Elsewhere in Christchurch the former Library (1875), Boys’ High School (1879), Girls’ High School (1880), Anderson’s Shops, Borough Hotel and Butterworth’s Warehouse (1881) demonstrate his versatility in handling historicist vocabularies, while the Loan and Mercantile Company’s Store (...

Article

Within a half-century of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi between the British Crown and Maori chiefs in 1840—the event from which the beginning of New Zealand (Aotearoa) is generally dated (and leaving aside from the present discussion the tribal art of the indigenous Maori and the early art created by European navigators, explorers, surveyors, itinerant artists, soldiers, and the like)—a rudimentary infrastructure of public art galleries, art societies, and some art schools had arisen in the main cities—Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin—and the beginnings of a discourse concerning the character and purpose of the visual arts in the new nation emerged. The central question was whether or not such a phenomenon as ‘New Zealand art’ existed or should exist and what characteristics it should aspire to. These matters were vigorously debated for a decade or so either side of 1890 when the infant nation marked its 50th anniversary with a jubilee. The discourse about national identity then largely disappeared for a generation only to emerge again a decade or so either side of ...

Article

(Rossi)

(b Alderstone, England, Jan 27, 1851; d Bondi, Sydney, April 27, 1942).

Australian painter and writer . He attended the West London School of Art and, following the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871, the Académie Julian in Paris. In 1878 the newspaper owner David Syme invited Ashton to Melbourne to produce black-and-white illustrations for the Illustrated Australian News. After a disagreement with the management he transferred to the rival Australasian Sketcher. In 1883 he went to Sydney, where he joined the staff of the Picturesque Atlas of Australia and also contributed to the Sydney Bulletin. Ashton was an ardent disciple of Impressionist painting and claimed to have executed the first plein-air landscape in Australia: Evening, Merri Creek (1882; Sydney, A.G. NSW). Much of his work, as in the watercolour A Solitary Ramble (1888; Sydney, A.G. NSW), had a strong sentimental streak. In addition to his outdoor works Ashton painted a number of portraits, such as that of Helen Ashton...

Article

Jeanette Hoorn

(b Bushy Creek, Victoria, c. 1824; d Coranderrk, Aug 15, 1903).

Australian Aboriginal painter and leader of the Wurundjeri people of Woi-Worung. His ancestral country was that surrounding the Yarra River and Port Phillip in Melbourne. He was related to the signatories of Batman’s Treaty of 1835 in which the Woi-Worung are thought to have ceded their land to the British Crown. Educated by Presbyterian missionaries, Barak fought a succession of governments who acted in the interests of pastoralists, in an effort to maintain the land that had been ‘granted’ to them at Coranderrk, near Healesville in Victoria.

Barak drew and painted in a figurative style on cardboard and thick paper, in charcoal, pencil, ochre, natural dyes and watercolour wash. His paintings detail the ceremonial lives of his community with many works showing the configurations associated with corroborees. Native animals including lyrebirds emus, snakes and echidnas are prominently represented in his compositions. A feature of his pictures is the extraordinary detail of the patterning found in the individual costumes of Wurundjeri and, in particular, the fine possum cloaks worn by them. Few of these original garments still exist but Barak’s paintings have inspired contemporary indigenous artists such as Treahna Hamm (...

Article

Peter Bridges

(b Almerclose, Scotland, Oct 17, 1827; d Sydney, Dec 17, 1904).

Australian architect of Scottish birth. He studied at the School of Design in London and emigrated to Sydney in 1854. After working for Edmund Blacket, he joined the New South Wales Colonial Architect’s Office as a clerk of works in 1860; in 1862 he was appointed Colonial Architect, responsible for all public buildings in the state except railway structures and schools. The period 1860 to 1890 was one of expansion, and under Barnet’s leadership more than 1000 new public buildings were erected. Strongly influenced by the work of Charles Robert Cockerell, Barnet developed an identifiable ‘house style’ with imposing Italianate designs that were well suited to their official status. His major works in Sydney, including the Australian Museum (1864), the arcaded General Post Office (1866–86), the Lands Department (1876–90) with an onion-domed clock–tower and the Customs House (1885) in trabeated classical style, were landmarks that changed a provincial town into a Victorian city. On a smaller scale, his court houses and post offices are still distinguished features of many country towns. An outstanding organizer, he designed and built the huge Garden Palace (...

Article

Robert Smith

(b Hadleigh, nr Ipswich, Suffolk, 1850; d Sydney, June 4, 1897).

Australian photographer. He arrived in Melbourne in 1854, where at the age of 16 he became assistant to Henry Beaufoy Merlin (1830–73), photographing views throughout the colony of Victoria, usually of buildings, often with the occupants posed before their façades. After five years they moved to Sydney, then to the goldfields of New South Wales, still concentrating on view pictures. Bayliss specialized in panoramas, and after Merlin’s death, the latter’s erstwhile patron, Bernard Holtermann (1838–85), commissioned him to make a photographic record of Australia. He began with an exhaustive study of Sydney (see fig.), followed by extended travel in Victoria, working with large wet-plate negatives, and producing numerous large composite panoramas. Holtermann’s home incorporated a tower 22 m high overlooking Sydney and its harbour, and Bayliss converted its upper level into a gigantic camera with which he made telephoto views, some on 900×1600...

Article

Christine Clark

(b Offenbach am Main, Hesse, Sept 5, 1808; d Bulloo, NSW, April 29, 1861).

Australian painter, Naturalist, meteorologist, ethnographer and explorer of German birth. He studied classics and natural science at the Ludwig Georg Gymnasium, Darmstadt, continuing his studies at Frankfurt am Main in lithography, geology, botany, meteorology and music. Aged 16 he illustrated Jakob Kaup’s Gallerie der Amphibien and in the following years produced further scientific illustrations. In 1840 he was appointed painter and portrait painter to the court of Ludwig III, Grand Duke of Hesse. Becker’s name was linked with Karl Marx and to the revolution of 1848, and he escaped in 1850 to England. He lectured and travelled in England and Scotland for several months before moving to Tasmania in 1851. In Australia he made botanical and meteorological studies, miniatures and a great many illustrations of Australian wildlife, land formations and Aborigines. In 1854 he designed the memorial medal for the Victorian Exhibition, Melbourne, the obverse showing the exhibition building. The medal was selected for display at the Exposition Universelle, Paris, in ...

Article

(Henry Frederick)

(b Melbourne, Dec 1, 1878; d Toorak, Victoria, Oct 22, 1966).

Australian painter. He attended the National Gallery School in Melbourne from 1896 to 1904. In 1904 he went to Paris, where he studied under Jean-Paul Laurens from 1904 to 1906. While in Paris he rebelled against his academic training, but he also rejected the principles of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. In paintings such as Night in Venice (1906; Mrs A. Niven priv. col., see 1979 exh. cat., pl. 5) he experimented with brushstrokes and paint texture while neglecting academic finish.

Bell left Paris in 1906 and went to England, where he became associated with a group of painters based in St Ives, among them Stanhope Forbes, the British painter Algernon Talmage (1871–1939) and Anders Zorn. While in England he joined the Modern Society of Portrait Painters, with whom he exhibited from 1907 to 1915. In 1908 he settled in London and joined the Chelsea Arts Club. He was appointed an Official War Artist in ...

Article

Gordon Campbell

Australian pottery founded in 1858 by a Scot, George Guthrie (1808–1909), in the town of Bendigo, Victoria. The factory made household wares, including acid bottles, bricks, clay pipes, roof tiles and tableware. During World War I it also made portrait jugs of military commanders, and in the 1930s it made agate-ware vases that were marketed as Waverly ware. The pottery is still active, but since ...

Article

Miles Lewis

(b Upton, Essex, 1803; d Melbourne, March 3, 1854).

Australian architect of English birth. He was employed in London as an inspector for the commissioners of sewers for Holborn and Finsbury, until his transportation to Hobart Town, Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania), with his wife and daughter in 1835, after forging a cheque. He was immediately employed in the Department of Roads and Bridges and was responsible for a great proportion of the colony’s road building, surveying and engineering work. When the department was merged into the Department of Public Works (1839), he began designing important government buildings; he was also able to operate privately in partnership with James Thjomsonn, as both architects and building contractors.

Although his buildings show the influence of John Claudius Loudon, Blackburn was also a powerful and innovative designer in his own right and was the first major exponent of the Picturesque in the Australian colonies (e.g. the Italianate extension of Rosedale of ...

Article

Valerie A. Clack

(Thomas)

(b London, Aug 25, 1817; d Sydney, Feb 9, 1883).

Australian architect, of English birth. He was the son of James Blacket, a London cloth merchant, and he initially worked in his father’s office and in a linen mill in Yorkshire before becoming a surveyor for the Stockton and Darlington Railway, where he must have obtained a knowledge of building. Blacket also sketched and measured old buildings in his spare time. In 1842 he moved to Sydney, where he obtained an appointment as a ‘valuator’ and perhaps also as an inspector of buildings. He received his first architectural commission in 1843 (All Saints, Singleton; destr.) and went on to become one of the leading architects in New South Wales in the mid-19th century. Appointed Diocesan Architect by 1847, he is known particularly for his Gothic Revival churches, mostly traditional in manner, of which he designed more than 50. Among them are simple country churches (e.g. at Berrima, Picton, Greendale and Wollombi); elegant city buildings (e.g. at Sydney: St Philip’s, ...

Article

Rory Spence

Term apparently coined by Robin Boyd in Australia’s Home (1952) and loosely applied to highly ornate architecture in a classical idiom that was fashionable in the eastern states of Australia between the late 1870s and early 1890s. The style was made possible by, and is to some extent an expression of, the financial boom that followed the discovery of gold in 1851. The climax of the boom was in the 1880s in Victoria, where the richest goldfields were located. The buildings most commonly associated with the Boom style are the richly decorated Italianate villas and speculative terrace houses of Melbourne. The English picturesque Italianate fashion had been introduced to Australia by the early 1840s but only reached its sumptuous apogee in Victoria in the late 1880s. The architecture is characterized by asymmetrical towers, balustraded parapets, polygonal bay windows and round-arched openings and arcades, though the terrace houses often lack the more elaborate features. The buildings were usually stuccoed and enriched with mass-produced Renaissance-style elements in cast cement. They frequently incorporate cast-iron filigree verandahs, prefabricated in sections. A typical stuccoed villa is ...

Article

Mary Eagle

(Charles Wulsten) [Charles Rupert Wulsten]

(b St Kilda, nr Melbourne, Sept 29, 1864; d Melbourne, May 26, 1947).

Australian painter. After studying in Melbourne under G. F. Folingsby (d 1891), he moved to Europe in 1884 and studied in London under P. H. Calderon and in Paris under Jean-Paul Laurens, who introduced him to the Société des Artistes Français in 1887. His early works consisted mainly of mythological subjects and graceful images of pleasant Symbolist landscapes (e.g. Pastoral, c. 1893; Canberra, N.G.); he defected to the New Salon in 1901 and produced some less decorative works, including images of biblical subjects (e.g. the Prodigal Son, c. 1903; Melbourne, Wesley Church). A long series of paintings of women followed (e.g. the Distant Song, c. 1909; Canberra, N.G.), but his style again changed abruptly when in 1913 he exhibited at the Salon d’Automne a series of images of dancers, The Rite (untraced; repr. in A. & Déc., xxxiv (1913), p. 170), that shows the influence of Primitivism. Although not attracted to the avant-garde, Bunny showed an adventurous spirit in his unusual sense of colour, sense of rhythm and witty use of his subjects’ poses. He continued to live in Paris and London until ...

Article

William Main

(Henry)

(b England, 1834; d Dunedin, 1914).

New Zealand photographer. At the age of 34 he travelled to join his younger brother, Walter Burton, who had established a photographic business in Dunedin, New Zealand. Under the name of Burton Bros. they practised photography together until their partnership was dissolved by mutual consent in 1876. Alfred continued to trade under the firm’s name until 1898, at which point he sold his remaining interests to two former associates, Muir and Moodie. A great deal of anecdotal information about his life can be found in the self-promoting articles that he supplied to various Dunedin newspapers and publications. He is remembered above all for his trip up the Wanganui River in April and May in 1885. This North Island river gave access to the hinterland known as the King Country, a place where Maori tribes had retreated after the New Zealand Wars of the 1860s. Photographing as he went, Burton documented the villages and people of the area in 250 plates. These images are among the most important social documents on Maori life to have survived from this period. Burton marketed his views in albums, which he called ...

Article

John Maidment

(b Pensford, Somerset, Mar 24, 1864; d Toorak, Victoria, May 31, 1949).

Australian architect of English birth. Articled in Barnstaple to Alexander Lauder (1880–84), Butler moved to J. D. Sedding’s office in London in 1885, also travelling and sketching widely in Britain and Europe. In 1888 Butler emigrated to Melbourne, initially in partnership with Beverley Ussher (1868–1908) from 1889–95 and successively George Inskip (fl 1879–1913) from 1896–1905, Ernest R. Bradshaw from 1907–16, his nephew Richard Butler from 1916–36, Marcus Martin from 1926–31 and Hugh Pettit from 1926–39. He was the most important direct link with the English Arts and Crafts movement at the time of his arrival and he soon secured many domestic commissions for wealthy clients, which comprise the major portion of his work. Notable elements of his work include prominent Dutch gables and half-timbered gables, sweeping parapets, the widespread adoption of bay windows, the use of rough cast and brick and also sweeping rooflines in Marseilles tiles; some of the plans were unconventional, with diagonally-placed wings. Later, Butler occasionally moved to a refined classicism and had a long interest in the art of landscape design and urban planning. His ‘Melbourne Mansions’ (...

Article

Jocelyn Fraillon Gray

(b Morges, Vaud, March 3, 1814; d Melbourne, Victoria, May 30, 1888).

Swiss painter, lithographer and photographer, active in Brazil and Australia. He attended a drawing school in Lausanne, where his teacher may have been Marc-Louis Arlaud (1772–1845), and is thought to have spent some time with the landscape painter Camille Flers in Paris c. 1836 en route to Bahia (Salvador), Brazil. In 1840 he moved to Rio de Janeiro, where he established himself as a painter of local views and exhibited with the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts, Rio. His Brazilian landscapes, of which the View of Gamboa (1852; Rio de Janeiro, Mus. N. B.A.) is an example, received critical acclaim for their vivacious lighting. As a photographer he fulfilled commissions in daguerreotype for Emperor Peter II, and with the figure painter Auguste Moreau he produced a set of 18 lithographs, Picturesque Rio de Janeiro, published in 1843–4. From 1852 to 1864 he worked as a portrait photographer in Switzerland and from ...