The Art Gallery of NSW as described in the DK Eyewitness Travel Top 10 Sydney:
"Conceived in the 1870's and open to the public in 1909, AGNSW contains some of the finest artworks in Australia. Situated on a grand drive in The Domain, it has always been a wonderful place to escape the heat and bustle of the city. More than a million visitors a year enjoy its permanent collection of Australian, Asian, Aboriginal, contemporary & European art. The Yiribana Gallery is of particular interest, presenting Aboriginal & Torres strait Islander artists from different communities and backgrounds."
"Exterior: Walter Liberty Vernon designed the striking colonaded entrance and ornamented walls of this structure in the Classical style."
I've always loved the golden coloured Classical front to the Art Gallery.
Whether arriving by bus or by foot across The Domain, one feels like you've arrived somewhere special.
Perched up high above Wooloomooloo with a sweeping view out to Sydney Harbour, it is grand, majestic and welcoming.
|The Offerings of Peace (1923) Gilbert Bayes|
"The real and lasting victories are those of peace and not war."
|Reclining Figure: Angles (1980) Henry Moore|
Six bronze reliefs were commissioned to fill the empty panels on the southern side of the building.
They were designed to represent the six "distinctive historical art periods of the Assyrian, Egyptian, Grecian, Roman, Gothic and Renaissance."
However, only four were ever completed.
It can only be assumed that further works would have been commissioned to fill the panels on the northern side too.
The four existing panels have absolutely nothing to do with the names above them.
|Phryne Before Praxiteles (1900) Percival Ball|
is the third panel representing the Greek period of art history.
During last year's America exhibition.
(You can see the four bronze reliefs off to the right of this photo.)
I love the blurb supplied by the Art Gallery about it's beginnings:
How it began
1870 was a year of violent unrest in Europe. It saw the start of the Franco-Prussian War and a revolution in Paris which lead to the proclamation of the Third Republic. Italian troops occupied Papal Rome, making the ageing Pius IX a prisoner of the Vatican. These turbulent events set off a ripple of sensation even in far away Australia. At the first ‘Conversazione’ or artistic soirée of the New South Wales Academy of Art on 7 August 1871, much of the talk was of recent European turmoil. The Louvre, used for a time as an arsenal, had suffered a dreadful fire. Eliezer Montefiore, a founding member of the Academy, passed around photographs of the shattered ruins of its buildings on the evening of the Conversazione. The animated rhetoric of the night touched on the possibility of a young Australia having to carry the torch of culture, even as Europe degenerated into chaos. It is a theme which has been rehashed throughout Australian history. These events fuelled a budding local resolve to establish an Academy of Art “for the purpose of promoting the fine arts through lectures, art classes and regular exhibitions”. Yet cultural idealism was only one contributing factor to the series of events which lead to the foundation of the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
If you'd like to read more about the history of the building, click here.
If you'd like to pop over to my book blog here, you can see my celebratory post.