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An image of Waratah by Lucien Henry

Lucien Henry

(France, Australia 1850 – 1896)

Media category
Materials used
oil on wood

51.0 x 35.0 cm board; 68.3 x 52.4 x 4.5 cm frame

Signature & date
Signed and dated l.r., pencil "L. Henry 87".
Gift of Marcel Aurousseau 1983
Accession number
19th c Australian art
Further information

This Beaux-Arts graduate and Paris Communard was exiled from France to New Caledonia, settling in Sydney after his reprieve in 1879. As both teacher and practising designer, Lucien Henry made a vital contribution to the Sydney art scene during two of its most active and experimental decades.

Fascinated by the pictorial possibilities of native flora and fauna – especially the waratah, the floral emblem of New South Wales – Henry produced superlative designs for stained glass, interior décor, architecture and items of applied art. He also created this striking, highly-detailed painting, 'Waratah', with its scarlet bloom set against an intricate turquoise-and-gold geometric Islamic-style pattern. It was exhibited in 1887 at the Eighth Annual Exhibition of the Art Society of NSW.

Bibliography (6)

Margaret Betteridge, State of the waratah: the floral emblem of New South Wales in legend, art and industry, 'A national style', pg. 18-19, Sydney, 2000, 18, 19 (colour illus.).

Anna Elias, Art and Australia (vol. 32, no. 1), 'Useless Beauty', pg. 66-72, Killara, Spring 1994, 67 (colour illus.).

Juliana Engberg, Colonial Post Colonial, Victoria, 1996, 67.

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 109 (colour illus.).

Ann Stephen and Charles Pickett, Visions of a Republic: the work of Lucien Henry, 'The makings of an Australian art', pg. 66-69, Haymarket, 2001, 66, 67 (colour illus.).

Jill Sykes (Editor), Look, 'Members events: February 2012', pg. 40-41, Newtown, Feb 2012, 40 (colour illus.).

Exhibition history (4)

Colonial Post Colonial, Museum of Modern Art at Heide, Bulleen, 25 May 1996–11 Aug 1996

State of the Waratah, S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney, 01 Sep 2000–08 Oct 2000

Visions of Federation, Powerhouse Museum, Australia, 03 Apr 2001–14 Oct 2001

Visions of a republic: the work of Lucien Henry, Powerhouse Museum, Australia, Apr 2001 -