Barak, William (1824-1903; Australian)
Untitled [Aboriginal ceremony] (c.1880s)
Brown ochre and charcoal on cardboard, 73.2 x 55.5 cm
Donated by John Mather, 1895 (probably)
State Library of Victoria (H29640)

This work and Barak Untitled [Aboriginal ceremony, with wallaby and emu] {1895} SLV [PA] are presumably the two paintings recorded as donated to the collection by local painter John Mather in 1895 (refer Museum Victoria website, as noted below).

They are almost certainly also two the “scenes of aboriginal life” by Barak included in the Primitive Art exhibition staged jointly by the NGV and the Museum of Victoria in 1943. The two works have also been shown together at various times since, notably in the “Remembering Barak” exhibition at the SLV in 2003.

Lindy Allen, in her account of the early collection of art by Aboriginal artists (Museum of Victoria website), indicates that images like this were painted specifically for Europeans.


Not listed in AR 1895 or NGV 1905

The SLV catalogue dates this work (also numbered LT 996) to c.1880-c.1890, and lists exhibition details from 2003 onwards. See also Lindy Allen, “The Early Collection and Exhibition of Art Work by Aboriginal Artists,” A History of Museum Victoria ( (accessed 26/5/2016)