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New acquisitions

Acquisitions policy | Vision and policies

The National Gallery of Australia is constantly adding to the national collection, keeping abreast of emerging art as well as expanding existing collections. The highlights featured in each issue of Artonview are displayed here.
Note: Previous acquisitions can be viewed in the overview of each collection area under the Collection tab in the main menu.

 

image:

Charles Firnhaber
The Royal Exchange Cup 1849

 

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Purchased 2012


Two recently acquired works, a silver racing trophy and a watercolour, provide an unusually personal domestic link to early colonial life in South Australia. The presentation silver cup, with its repoussé decoration of leaves and flowers, was produced in 1849 by Adelaide silversmith Charles Eduard Firnhaber and the watercolour was painted around 1850 by JM Skipper. They are connected through their association with one of South Australia's most important early citizens, Sir John Morphett, who was knighted in 1870 for his services to the state. Read more

 

 


image: Robert Seymour (etcher), Thomas Mclean (publisher) 'Cousin Thomas, or the Swan River Job' 1829 The Wordsworth Collection, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Purchased 2010

J.M. Skipper
Cummins House, Adelaide, with John Morphett and family, and a group of Aborigines, in the foreground c.1850
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Purchased 2012


 

Skipper was one of the earliest South Australian painters. His enthusiasm for sketching meant he soon became popular. He was known for his skilfully observed drawings and paintings of people, landscape and natural history.…

 

 

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image: EL Kirchner 'Bathing scene, Fehmarn, under overhanging trees' 1913 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, The Poynton Bequest 2011

Stephen Bird
John Glover's paint tray 2012
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra  
Purchased 2012

 

Stephen Bird was born in the potteries district of Stoke-on-Trent in the United Kingdom in 1964 and arrived in Australia in 2008. Since then, he has been a part-time lecturer in ceramics at the National Art School in Sydney. Before arriving in Australia, Bird undertook research at the Potteries Museum in Stoke-on-Trent into the hidden meanings and political messages in mass-produced British ornamental ceramics of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. …

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image: EL Kirchner 'Bathing scene, Fehmarn, under overhanging trees' 1913 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, The Poynton Bequest 2011

William Buelow Gould
Cat o'nine tails 1848
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra  
Purchased with funds from the Jarrett Bequest 2012

 

Here is a cat among the fishes, looking out at us, with a sly grin on its face. It is in seventh heaven among this cornucopia of fish. Painted by colonial artist WB Gould, it is full of character and of humour. It highlights the artist’s eye for composition and his charming, decorative and ‘primitive’ style. It is one of only three known works by Gould containing cats.. …

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image: EL Kirchner 'Bathing scene, Fehmarn, under overhanging trees' 1913 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, The Poynton Bequest 2011

Ron McBurnie
Tobias and the angel 2008
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra  
Gordon Darling Australia Pacific Print Fund, 2012

 

Known for drawing his inspiration from art historical precedent and the whimsy and banality of every day life, Townsville-based artist Ron McBurnie is one of Australia's most skilled and idiosyncratic contemporary printmakers. Taken from McBurnie's 'romantic' series, the etching Tobias and the angel 2008 reveals his erudite and passionate engagement with art history and explores the dramatised landscape tradition that came to prominence in Europe during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.. …

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image: EL Kirchner 'Bathing scene, Fehmarn, under overhanging trees' 1913 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, The Poynton Bequest 2011

Darren Siwes
Biyi Marrkidj 2011
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra  
Purchased 2012

 

South Australian artist Darren Siwes's photographic series Dalabon Biyi/Dalabon Dalok 2011 employs fifteenth-century Roman architect Vitruvius's idea of perfection, of divine proportion, famously illuminated by Leonardo da Vinci in his drawing 'Virtruvian man' of around 1487. As Siwes suggests in his artist statement about this series, he is challenging 'conscious and subconscious notions and viewpoints of perfection by layering them with less familiar Aboriginal cultural and Aboriginal social viewpoints and perspectives'. …

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image: EL Kirchner 'Bathing scene, Fehmarn, under overhanging trees' 1913 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, The Poynton Bequest 2011

Cham kingdom Vietnam
Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara Padmapani with attendants 9-10th century
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra  
Acquired with the assistance of Sally White OAM and Geoffrey White OAM

 

The Cham kingdoms of south and central Vietnam are among the great civilisations of Southeast Asia. Although extraordinary art and temple complexes were created, surviving Cham art is rare in any media, especially bronze. The central figure of this group of three bronzes is an exquisite gilded image of the compassionate Buddhist saviour Avalokiteshvara (Quan-am in Vietnamese and Guanyin in Chinese). With its elaborate halo and extensive gilding, it is the finest and most intact Cham bronze known.. …

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image: EL Kirchner 'Bathing scene, Fehmarn, under overhanging trees' 1913 National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, The Poynton Bequest 2011

Alexandra Exter
The music lesson c.1925
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra  
Purchased 2012

 

Two women, separated by a red piano, inhabit Alexandra Exter’s The music lesson. One, dressed in white, is seated on the right and plays the piano. The role of the other, on the left, is more ambiguous: her mouth is open, so is she the teacher speaking or the student singing? Is she seated or standing? She seems taller, with more conservative clothing and is perhaps older; her hair is in a bun, unlike the pianist’s red hair styled in a modern bob.…

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