Ocean to Outback
Australian landscape painting 1850–1950


Jeffrey Smart 'Wallaroo' 1951 oil on plywood Collection of the National Gallery of Australia Jeffrey Smart 'Wallaroo' 1951 oil on plywood Collection of the National Gallery of Australia

 “The ancient continent of Australia embraces extremes of glorious landscape, plunging cliffs and gentle coastal beaches, mountain ranges and vast plains, dense forest and arid desert. This exhibition, Ocean to Outback: Australian landscape painting 1850–1950, embraces these natural extremes, the landscapes in between, and the cultural landscapes created by human settlement.”
Ron Radford, Director National Gallery of Australia

The Hon. Mark Vaile MP, Deputy Prime Minister, Leader of the Nationals and Minister for Transport and Regional Services officially launched Ocean to Outback: Australian landscape painting 1850–1950, at the National Gallery of Australiaon Thursday 2 August 2007.

To mark the National Gallery of Australia’s twenty-fifth anniversary, Director Ron Radford AM has curated an exhibition of treasured Australian landscape paintings from the national collection.

Ocean to Outback: Australian landscape painting 1850–1950 is a truly national exhibition. From the white heat of our beaches to the red heart of central Australia, the exhibition celebrates the great diversity of the Australian continent. It includes paintings of every state and territory from the great century of Australian landscape art. From 1850 to 1950 the landscape was the most painted and celebrated theme in Australian art. The exhibition includes works that reflect great social changes and encompasses art-historical periods from colonial art through to modernism.

Ocean to Outback: Australian landscape painting 1850–1950 includes iconic paintings from the permanent display by Australia’s eminent artists including Eugene von Guérard, Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Margaret Preston, Grace Cossington Smith, Russell Drysdale, Arthur Boyd and Sidney Nolan. It also includes a number of works that, because of insufficient hanging space at the National Gallery, out-of-period framing, or condition, have rarely been displayed in Canberra. All of these paintings have now been cleaned, restored and reframed especially for this tour, and are now proudly presented in this exhibition.

The exhibition begins with a dramatic scene of a shipwreck off Tasmania’s east coast painted in 1850 by Knut Bull, and an image of Sydney Harbour by colonial artist Conrad Martens. Early images by Australia’s finest late colonial landscape painter from the period, Eugene von Guérard, depict the natural beauty of Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges and the Blue Mountains in New South Wales. Scenes of the pastoral industry and goldmining are also included. A number of iconic ‘blue and gold’ images by the Australian Impressionists, Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton, showcase the national collection’s great holdings from this period.

The exhibition also features Modernist experiments of colour theory by Roland Wakelin and Roy de Maistre, along with modern works by Australia’s greatest women artists Grace Cossington Smith, Margaret Preston and Clarice Beckett. Early works by Jeffrey Smart and Ray Crooke, two of Australia’s celebrated living artists, are also on show.
A number of paintings in the exhibitionreveal how artists used the landscape as inspiration during difficult times of drought, depression or war. Masterpieces by Arthur Boyd, Russell Drysdale, Albert Tucker and Sidney Nolan explore the drama and expressive possibilities inherent in the land.

Ocean to Outback: Australian landscape painting 1850–1950 is part of an extensive travelling exhibition program developed by the National Gallery of Australia to ensure that people across Australia have access to the treasures of the national collection.
Ocean to Outback: Australian landscape painting 1850 - 1950 is proudly supported by Visions of Australia, an Australian Government Program supporting touring exhibitions by providing funding assistance for the development and touring of Australian cultural material across Australia, the proud sponsor R.M.Williams, The Bush Outfitter and the National Gallery of Australia Council Exhibitions Fund.

From 2007 to 2009 the exhibition will tour to every Australian state and territory.




For further information please contact:
Todd Hayward
+61 2 6240 6700
mobile 0404 391 210

Dominique Nagy
T ravelling Exhibitions
+61 2 6240 6525