1875 Picture Gallery

[engraving by Samuel Calvert, published in the Illustrated Australian News, 14 June 1875] Among various recognizable works, * Giambologna [after] Rape of the Sabines {1878} Loc? [SC] (no longer in the collection) is prominent. The room, later re-named the McArthur Gallery, how houses the State Library’s Family History collection.

A Note on Representations of Aboriginal People

NB both the NGV and SLV provide over-arching messages concerning Aboriginal images, advising that deceased people may be represented, that care has been taken to avoid including images of a sensitive nature, and that terms and conditions concerning any work may have been imposed by Indigenous communities. Similar advice and provisos apply to works in

Glimpses of Modernity

Chronologically, the pre-Felton era corresponds, more or less, with the first phase of modernism, as generally understood by cultural historians. Richard Brettall, for instance, in his Oxford History of Art volume Modern Art 1851-1929 (1999), argues that the Great Exhibition of 1851 ushered in the era of modernity, exemplified not only by the remarkable iron and

Australia and England

One of the pre-Felton sculptures de-accessioned in the 1940s was a marble group by British sculptor George Halse, called Advance, Australia. Carved in 1865 and donated to the NGV in 1891, it encapsulates the idea of colonial Australia as a naïve adolescent venturing out from under the protective embrace of Britannia “into the clear open

Representations of Aboriginal People

NB both the NGV and SLV provide over-arching messages concerning Aboriginal images, advising that deceased people may be represented, that care has been taken to avoid including images of a sensitive nature, and that terms and conditions concerning any work may have been imposed by Indigenous communities. Similar advice and provisos apply to all works

Exclusions, Summaries and Anomalies

As mentioned under Introductory Remarks, this catalogue aims to provide as complete as possible an account of the NGV collection as it had evolved by 1904. In the spirit of full disclosure, though, a few exceptions to this rule are noted below. [photo: “Nelson’s teapot,” made in Sheffield, c.1790. NGV (875-D1M) (donated by Frederic Tate

Victorian Victoria

Queen Victoria, who reigned for 64 years (1837-1901), was a strong presence in the pre-Felton gallery, although she never visited Australia. Several images of her and her family were held in the collection, and in 1893 she donated a fascinating group of etchings made by herself and Prince Albert in the 1840s. Works by a

Barkly, Sir Henry (1815-98; English)

In his role as Victoria’s third Governor (1856-63), Barkly formally welcomed the formation of the new Museum of Art in May 1861 as “…the auspicious commencement of so grand a design.” (see Inglis & others 2011). The various portraits of Barkly listed below (evidence of the esteem in which he was held) were all completed

Reproductions, casts and copies

[reproduction: view of the cast collection in NGV 1905, p.159] In several meticulously-researched studies, Melbourne art historian Alison Inglis has emphasized the reliance of both private and public collections in colonial Australia on “replicas, reproductions and copies.” Although the modernist “tradition of the new” tends to view such objects askance, 19th-century audiences had no such

NGV Travelling Scholarship

This scholarship, instituted by G.F.Folingsby, was first awarded to John Longstaff in 1887. The terms of the award dictated that at least one original canvas and two Old Master copies from each recipient be added to the Melbourne collection. Other recipients during the pre-Felton period were Aby Altson [1890], James Quinn [1893], George Coates [1896], Max

Levey Gift (1879)

In 1879, George Collins Levey (1835-1919), a British-born journalist and newspaper editor who lived and worked in Australia, mostly in Melbourne, between 1851 and c.1883, donated a substantial collection of prints to the NGV – arguably the most significant donation to the gallery prior to the Felton Bequest. (For Levey, see in particular the biography

1943 auction of NGV sculpture

As reported in the Melbourne Age (19 May 1943), a group of 19 sculptures was auctioned off at the NGV by Mr Leonard Joel: see attached report (via Trove). Some 15 of these were pre-Felton acquisitions. This sale was part of the larger process of extensive culling of the Melbourne collection (mostly Victorian-era works) carried out between

The Graphic

[comparative photo: cover of the 13 Sept.1888 issue of The Graphic, showing the opening of the Melbourne Centennial Exhibition] Established in 1869, The Graphic was a significant platform for black and white illustrators of the period, continuing weekly publication until 1932. Founded to compete with the established Illustrated London News, it attracted many of the best graphic

Oval Portrait Series

[photo: William Bligh (no.9)] This series of portraits of colonial governors was initiated by Redmond Barry and the Melbourne Public Library Trustees in 1866. Most of them appear to have been produced during the 1860s and 1870s, although new examples were still being added in the 1880s. In the gallery’s annual reports, they are usually described as “painted photographic

1883 Sunday at the National Gallery

This wood engraving, published in The Australasian Sketcher, 4 June 1883, provides an exciting if possibly exaggerated view of the tumultuous Sunday crowd at the NGV, hurrying past the two zinc lions formerly guarding the entrance, in their eagerness to see Herbert Moses bringing down the Tablets of the Law (acquired in 1878) and the

1862 (or later) Queen’s Hall

This photograph was presumably taken in the 1860s or 1870s, and cannot date from any earlier than 1862, since it includes on the balcony at the back the Burmese Buddha acquired in that year: see now  introduction to Asian art, with a detail of this photo. Housed on the first floor of the Melbourne Public

* Unknown: Inhabitants of Mauritius {1874} Loc? [PH]

Unknown photographer/s Sixteen photographs (cartes de visite) of Chinese, Indian, and Mozambique inhabitants of Mauritius Presented by William Cassidy 1874 Location unknown This set of photos, recorded under gifts in the NGV’s Annual Report for 1874, does not seem to be extant. The SLV does hold various photographs taken in Mauritius during the period, including an

Summary Chronology

[photo: Picture Gallery, Melbourne Public Library, 1865]   Preliminary note on dates and labels The descriptive labels typically attached to many of the artworks included in this catalogue – “Victorian,” Colonial and so on – tend to imply a sort of old-fashioned or preliminary character, compared with followed. This may be so, but it’s also worth

Smith, James (1820-1910; English/Australian)

[photo: Robert Dowling: James Smith 1884 (SLV H41737; gift of Smith’s widow, 1910)] An influential critic and commentator on the fine arts in Melbourne throughout the pre-Felton era, Smith consistently proclaimed the view (shared by Redmond Barry and others) that art should be an improving force in society, clearly exhibiting moral values. Virtually an exact