Conrad Martens | England/Australia 1801-1878 | Forest, Cunningham's | Gap1856 Watercolour on paper | 30.5 x 42cm | Purchased 1998 with funds raised through The Conrad Martens Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Appeal and with the assistance of the Queensland Government's special Centenary Fund | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery
Vida Lahey | Australia 1882-1968 | Monday morning 1912 | Oil on canvas | 153 x 122.7cm Gift of Madame Emily Coungeau through the Queensland Art Society 1912 | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery
Forest, Cunningham's Gap 1856
Watercolour on paper
30.5 x 42cm
Purchased 1998 with funds raised through The Conrad Martens Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Appeal and with the assistance of the Queensland Government's special Centenary Fund
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery
Monday morning 1912
Oil on canvas
153 x 122.7cm
Gift of Madame Emily Coungeau through the Queensland Art Society 1912
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery
R Godfrey Rivers | Under the jacaranda (detail) 1903 | Oil on canvas | Purchased 1903 | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery
In 1998, the Queensland Art Gallery recognised the importance of collecting works by Queensland-born or Queensland-based artists by establishing a specialist curatorial position, Research Curator (Queensland Heritage). Displays in the Xstrata Coal Queensland Artists’ Gallery (Gallery 14) now focus on the history of the visual arts in Queensland, and form a particular feature during Queensland’s 2009 sesquicentenary celebrations.
Queensland Heritage encompasses the work of artists in all media, both historical and contemporary, and aims to establish a distinctive regional identity for Queensland. Works by visiting artists who documented the state’s early development, such as Conrad Martens in 1851, are also included.
One of the Gallery’s aims is to acquire works by artists who represent the cultural endeavours of this state at a national level. A substantial body of work by each artist will be acquired to document their development and maturity. A strength of the Gallery’s Collection is its representation of Queensland artists such as Isaac Walter Jenner, Vida Lahey, LJ Harvey and his School, Bessie Gibson, Vincent Sheldon, Kenneth Macqueen, Jon Molvig, Ian Fairweather and Carl McConnell. Lahey, Harvey, Brown, Macqueen, Molvig, Fairweather and McConnell have all been the subjects of exhibitions in the Gallery.
In 2007, the Gallery staged the major exhibition ‘Making it Modern: The Watercolours of Kenneth Macqueen’ and a selection of his works from the Collection recently made an extensive tour of Queensland. The 2009 ‘LJ Harvey and His Times’ exhibition places Queensland’s highly regarded woodcarver, sculptor, potter and teacher in the context of the Brisbane art scene in first half of the twentieth century, with paintings by Godfrey Rivers, Vida Lahey, Lloyd Rees, William Bustard, Charles Lancaster and WG Grant. This display, which introduces the series of sesquicentenary exhibitions, also acknowledges the generous gift of his twin grandsons, the Reverends David and Bruce Noble of Houston, Texas.
In recent years, the Gallery has acquired works by William Robinson, Robert MacPherson, Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, Thanakupi, Gordon Bennett and Tracey Moffatt ― artists whose careers have brought distinction to the visual arts in this state and whose work has featured prominently in displays in the Gallery.
Nineteenth-century graphics is an area which will be further developed, as many of the major works documenting the exploration and development of this state are already in the collection of major British institutions. Etchings after William Westall’s paintings, which he sketched on Matthew Flinders’s circumnavigation of Australia in 1803 and are now in the collection of the National Maritime Museum, London, were the first to be acquired in 2007.
Photography is a relatively recent collection focus. The Gallery has been collecting contemporary work quite broadly, but Queensland is the focus of photography from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The earliest work so far acquired is a photograph of pioneers of Central Queensland titled The Archer Brothers with Lionel Knight Rice, which was taken in Brisbane in the late 1860s.
British-born artist R Godfrey Rivers, who can be called the ‘father’ of art in Queensland, is represented with Under the jacaranda 1903, one of the icons of the Gallery. Another icon is Rivers’s pupil Vida Lahey’s Monday Morning 1912. Bessie Gibson’s Jeune femme en rose pâle is a recent major acquisition, which was hung in the Paris Salon in 1932. She and sculptor Harold Parker were the only Queensland artists to establish a reputation in Europe during the first half of the twentieth century.
The colourful floral watercolours by Vida Lahey and Macqueen’s landscapes of Millmerran on the Darling Downs are among the major achievements of the interwar period, while William Bustard’s oil painting Brisbane from Vulture Street 1937 gives a view of the developing city.
The early postwar period saw Charles Blackman establishing links with Queensland in works such as City lights 1952 and with the Johnstone Gallery, whose stable of Australian artists included Arthur Boyd, Russell Drysdale and Sidney Nolan. They were soon joined by Queensland artists such a Ray Crooke, Margaret Olley, Arthur Evan Read, John Rigby and sculptors Leonard and Kathleen Shillam. The 1950s also saw the arrival of Jon Molvig, whose intense personality and expressive style charged the visual culture of Queensland, while rivalry between Milton Moon and Carl McConnell created equal interest in the field of studio ceramics.
The combination of artistic personalities, the stimulation provided by directors of the Queensland Art Gallery, the proliferation of art prizes and the success of commercial art galleries provided the matrix which enhanced the artistic development of Brisbane and Queensland over the next decades.
The images on this web page are indicative of works that are part of the Collection. Visitors are advised to contact the Gallery in advance of a visit to find out if a particular work is on display. For exhibition information on Collection works on display, please visit Current Collection Displays
Selected Collection Highlights
Conrad Martens Forest, Cunningham's Gap 1856
Joshua Ebenston and Matthew Fern 'Glengallan' sideboard 1868
Unknown Sidney House stained glass window c.1882
Unknown Printer (Myora Mission, Stradbroke Island) c.1900s
R. Godfrey Rivers Under the jacaranda 1903
Vida Lahey Monday morning 1912
Geoffrey Powell (Construction of Story Bridge, Brisbane) 1939, printed 2005
Daphne Mayo Olympian c.1946 cast after 1958
Arthur Evan Read North of Capricorn 1956–57
Ray Crooke Sunrise, Albion Hotel, Normanton 1962
Sam Fullbrook Ernestine Hill 1970
Margaret Olley Interior IV 1970
Carl McConnell Large vase with ‘Pinjarra plum’ glaze c.1980