DETAIL : Charles CONDER 'Ricketts Point, Beaumaris' [Sandringham] 1890 oil on wood panel NGA 1973.827
Tom ROBERTS | The quarry, Maria Island

England 1856 – Australia 1931
Australia from 1869; England, Europe 1881- 85, 1901-23
The quarry, Maria Island 1926
oil on canvas
61.0 (h) x 50.5 (w) cm
Framed 82.8 (h) x 72.8 (w) x 8.4 (d) cm
signed and dated , l.l., oil "Tom Roberts 1926"
The Oscar Paul Collection, Gift of Henriette von Dallwitz and of Richard Paul in honour of his father 1965
NGA 1965.68
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In February and March of 1926 Tom Roberts spent six weeks painting in Tasmania. During this period he visited Maria Island, a former penal station and mining township located across the Mercury Passage off the east coast of the main island.

The quarry, Maria Island is a late example of Roberts’s depiction of human labour on the land. This is a narrative landscape filled with anticipation. Roberts presents an active mine in the heat of the midday sun–a flash of earth beneath clear blue sky. Careful geometric balance of the composition accentuates the dramatic vertical drop and sheer size of the quarry. The sweeping precipice is counterbalanced by opposing triangular masses of rock and sky. Dwarfed within this scene and disguised by the colours and tones of their environment, eight miners work the quarry. Their dangerous activity of blasting the stone is heightened by the scale of the limestone cliffs.