Major Arthur Boyd Painting Gifted to Queensland Art Gallery
14 OCTOBER 2016
MAJOR ARTHUR BOYD PAINTING GIFTED TO QUEENSLAND ART GALLERY
Queensland Art Gallery Director Chris Saines CNZM announced on the weekend Sleeping bride 1957-58, a major painting by leading Australian artist Arthur Boyd (1920-1999) has been gifted to the Queensland Art Gallery.
At the 2016 QAGOMA Foundation Annual Dinner on Saturday evening, Mr Saines said Boyd’s Sleeping bride 1957-58 was one of the most significant additions to the Gallery’s Australian art collection in the institution’s history.
The QAGOMA Foundation is the primary fundraising body of the Gallery. Since its establishment in 1979, the QAGOMA Foundation has raised more than $110 million, enabling the acquisition of more than 7200 artworks and supporting the development of QAGOMA exhibitions, publications and programs.
‘We are thrilled to have received this generous gift, a painting from Boyd’s major allegorical series ‘Love, Marriage and Death of a Half-caste’ (also known as the ‘Brides’). It’s a key example in the late artist’s oeuvre and a highly significant moment in Australian art history,’ Mr Saines said.
‘The work has been generously gifted to the Gallery by Paul Taylor in memory of his parents Eric and Marion Taylor.
‘The Taylors were passionately committed to family, education, community and service. For Paul and his wife Sue, the gift of Boyd’s painting made in Eric and Marion’s memory makes a compelling contribution to the QAGOMA Collection.
‘Boyd’s ‘Brides’ are tightly held paintings and considered some of the most important achievements in Australian modernism, akin to Sidney Nolan’s iconic ‘Kelly’ series of the 1940s,’ he said.
‘We look forward to exhibiting this work along with other key Boyd works in the QAGOMA collection such as the 1948 Berwick landscape and Gafney’s Creek, and paintings by other Australian modernists including Nolan, Russell Drysdale, Albert Tucker and William Dobell.’
Boyd commenced the series in the years following his 1953 visit to Alice Springs where he met the artist Rex Battarbee and travelled to the former mining settlement of Arltunga.
The trip was the artist’s first significant encounter with Indigenous Australians, and it had a lasting effect upon him.
The Brides series depicts a mixed race bride and groom, commenced by the artist in the years of the Federal Government’s assimilation policy and the stolen generations, which saw children of mixed race removed from their homes.
Sleeping bride 1957-58, depicts a solitary bride figure asleep and alone in a dark, blue-tinged landscape. She’s in a mysterious realm of half-light, suggesting the psychological space of the dream.
Rich with symbolism, the work is a gentler, more contemplative example in Boyd’s series that sometimes features images of death, mourning, fear, shame and alienation.
While the elusively episodic, psychological, and sometimes brutal images in the artist’s series are concerned with Australian subject matter, they also exemplify a keen interest in European painting in technique (oil and tempera) and subject matter, particularly that of Marc Chagall’s levitating paintings of brides and grooms, but inflected with Boyd’s own world view.
The first16 paintings in the Bride series were exhibited as ‘Allegorical Paintings’ at Australian Galleries, Melbourne in 1958, then in Adelaide and Sydney. Boyd produced additional works in 1958-59 and in London in the early 1960s soon after he moved there.
Sleeping bride 1957-58, was originally gifted by the artist to his sister Mary and brother-in-law John Perceval. It was then held in private collections in London, Melbourne and Brisbane prior to being gifted to the Queensland Art Gallery.
In addition to the unveiling of the Boyd gift, Mr Saines also announced the recipient of the 2016 QAGOMA Medal.
In recognition of her outstanding service and inspiring knowledge of the State art collection, Pamela Barnett was awarded the Medal at the Foundation’s Annual Dinner. Her principal contribution, as a Volunteer Guide, has brought enlightenment, inspiration and joy to many thousands of visitors to the Gallery.