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Art Gallery of South Australia

Art Gallery of South Australia

Art Gallery of South Australia

The Art Gallery of South Australia has a collection of over 38,000 works of art, making it one of the most extensive state art collections in Australia. As well as its permanent collection, the Gallery displays several visiting exhibitions every year.

Highlights of the Art Gallery of South Australia

  • “A Break Away!” by Tom Roberts
    • “A Break Away!” by Tom Roberts depicts a mob of thirsty sheep stampeding towards a dam for water. A drover on horseback is attempting to turn the mob before they crush and drown each other in their natural need to drink.

      This painting, an icon of Australian art, is part of a series of works by Tom Roberts that captured the emerging spirit of national identity in Australia during the 1890s. Roberts painted this work at Corowa, a town on the border between New South Wales and Victoria, Australia. The painting presents a time of drought, with little grass, and the soil is just dust. The work itself is a reflection on the pioneering days of the pastoral industry, which were coming to an end by the early 1900s.

  • “A holiday at Mentone” by Charles Conder
    • “A holiday at Mentone” by Charles Conder, depicts a beach in the Melbourne suburb of Mentone on a bright and sunny day. Conder’s depiction of people engaged in seaside activities and the brilliant noonday sunshine mark the painting as distinctively Australian. The painting was first exhibited in 1888 when Conder was aged only twenty years old.

      The work shows evidence of being influenced by Japanese art, while a similar bridge motif was commonly used by the influential American painter James McNeil Whistler. This painting is considered Conder’s best-known painting and has been described as a masterpiece of the Australian Impressionist style of painting.

  • “Dandenongs from Heidelberg” by Charles Conder
    • “Dandenongs from Heidelberg” by Charles Conder depicts the Dandenong Ranges, commonly just the Dandenongs, which are a set of low mountain ranges, east of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The ranges consist mostly of rolling hills, steeply weathered valleys, and gullies covered in Mountain Ash trees and dense ferny undergrowth.

      The sketch-like qualities widely associated with Impressionism are evident in this painting. Conder worked en Plein air to produce a sketchy masterpiece, vivid in color and abstract in design.

  • “A Summer Morning” by Rupert Bunny
    • “Dandenongs from Heidelberg” by Charles Conder depicts the Dandenong Ranges, commonly just the Dandenongs, which are a set of low mountain ranges, east of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The ranges consist mostly of rolling hills, steeply weathered valleys, and gullies covered in Mountain Ash trees and dense ferny undergrowth.

      The sketch-like qualities widely associated with Impressionism are evident in this painting. Conder worked en Plein air to produce a sketchy masterpiece, vivid in color and abstract in design.

  • “Circe Invidiosa” by John William Waterhouse
    • “Circe Invidiosa,” which in Latin means “Jealous Circe” by John William Waterhouse, portrays Circe, poisoning the water to turn Scylla, her rival into “a hideous monster.” Circe is a goddess of magic, or sometimes an enchantress from Greek mythology, and Scylla was a beautiful nymph who gets turned into the monster.

      In Latin, invidia is the sense of envy, a “looking upon” associated with the evil eye. Invidia or envy is one of the Seven Deadly Sins in Christian belief. Invidia is also the Roman name for the ancient Greek goddess, Nemesis. In this painting, Waterhouse has expertly invested his main subject with an aura of menace, with deep greens and blues and the echo of straight vertical lines emphasizing the inevitability of her intent.

  • “The Favorites of the Emperor Honorius” by John William Waterhouse
    • “The Favorites of the Emperor Honorius” by John William Waterhouse portrays the “Emperor of the West” feeding birds which are on the rug in front of him. The colors of the Emperor’s clothes and the carpet dominate the foreground. In contrast to the councilors seeking his attention, and who, along with the attendants, are dressed in paler shades. However, the Emperor is also shown as indecisive, his face in shadow. This depiction is in contrast to Augustus’s statue in the background, which is bathed in light.

      Honorius is considered as one of the worst emperors during the last period of the Eastern Roman Empire. During his reign, Rome was attacked and sacked for the first time in 800 years. Honorius, whose name in Latin is Flavius Honorius Augustus (384 – 423), was the Western Roman Emperor from 393 to 423. He was the younger son of emperor Theodosius I, and brother of Arcadius, who was the Eastern Emperor in Constantinople. Honorius’s reign was precarious and chaotic during a period in which the Western Roman Empire was in rapid decline.

  • Melencolia I by Albrecht Dürer
    • Melencolia I, by Albrecht Dürer, depicts an enigmatic and gloomy winged female figure as a personification of melancholia. Holding her head in her hand, she stares past the busy scene in front of her. The foreground is strewn with symbols and tools associated with carpentry and craft workshops, including an hourglass, weighing scales, a hand plane, and a saw. Objects relate to alchemy, geometry, or numerology are also featured. Above and to the right of the figure is a structure with a magic square embedded in the wall. There is also a ladder against the wall and leading beyond the frame. The sky contains a rainbow, a light source, and a bat-like creature bearing the text “MELENCOLIA I.”

      Dürer’s engraving is one of the most well-known old master prints, but, without a definitive interpretation. Dürer may have related melancholia with creative activity. The woman may be a representation of a Muse, awaiting inspiration but gloomy in the prospect that it will not return. Some art historians see the figure as pondering the nature of beauty or the value of artistic creativity in the light of rationalism. There is little documentation to provide insight into Dürer’s intent.

A Tour of the Art Gallery of South Australia

Art Gallery of South Australia

  • Name:                      Art Gallery of South Australia
  • Former Name:         National Gallery of South Australia
  • Established:             1881
  • Type:                        Art Gallery
  • Location:                  North Terrace, Adelaide
  • City:                          Adelaide

A Tour of Museums  in Australia

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“A museum is a place where one should lose one’s head.”
– Renzo Piano

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Photo Credit: By Alan Levine from Strawberry, United States (Art Gallery of South Australia) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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