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The Bluff, Middle Harbour, Sydney



Robert Atkinson

Australia, England, New Zealand

15 Nov 1863 - 1896


Robert Atkinson studied in London and Antwerp before moving to New Zealand, then in 1885 to Australia. Like many other artists, he worked as an illustrator on various publications, including 'The Bulletin'. He spent about five years in Sydney, exhibiting with the Art Society of NSW, and was a resident of the artists' camp at Edwards Beach near Balmoral, the site of several of his best known works. 'The Bluff, Middle Harbour', painted from the headland north of the artists' camp, was bought by the Gallery in the year that it was painted, also the year Atkinson returned to England.

excerpt from Hendrik Kolenberg, Anne Ryan and Patricia James, '19th century Australian watercolours, drawings & pastels in the Gallery's collection', Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2005


Other Title

The Bluff, Middle Harbour

Place where the work was made

Sydney New South Wales Australia



Media category


Materials used

pencil, watercolour, chinese white highlights


75.2 x 55.9 cm sheet; frame 109.5 x 88.0 x 4.0 cm

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. corner, pale blue watercolour "R ATKINSON 1889".


Purchased 1889


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Robert Atkinson

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 7 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 9 publications


George Galway, Fifty years of Australian art 1879-1929, New South Wales, 1929, 80 (illus.).

Hendrik Kolenberg, Australian watercolours 1880s to 1990s, 'Introduction: Painting in watercolour', pg. 8-16, Sydney, 1995, 10, 20, 21 (colour illus.), 114. 5

Hendrik Kolenberg, Nineteenth century Australian watercolours from the collection, Sydney, 1991. 7

Hendrik Kolenberg, 19th century Australian watercolours, drawing and pastels from the Gallery's collection, 'Introduction', pg. 6-16, Sydney, 2005, 12, 92, 93 (colour illus.).

Lionel Lindsay, 150 years of Australian art, Sydney, 1938. not paginated, 392 [Gallery No. 4]

Albie Thoms, Bohemians in the bush: the artists' camps of Mosman, Sydney, 1991, 44.

Royal Art Society of New South Wales, Art Society of New South Wales Autumn Exhibition Catalogue (1889), Sydney, 1889, 25 (illus.). 83; titled 'Bluff at the entrance to Middle harbour'

Daniel Thomas., Sydney Harbour, ‘Introduction', Sydney, 1963. 22; titled 'The Bluff, Middle Harbour'

Trustees of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australian watercolours from the National Art Gallery collection 1836 to 1946, Sydney, 1946, 4, 8. 6