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Australian art

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Sydney Harbour



John D. Moore


06 Sep 1888 - 09 Dec 1958


'John Moore showed some discontent with the prevailing outlook in Australian landscape painting soon after his return from Europe after the war ... [he] showed an unusually strong interest in nature in its more dramatic moods ... a weariness with perpetual sunshine and the unchanging mood which was thought to be proper to the typical Australian landscape.'
- Basil Burdett, 1933

Although practising as an architect, Moore also maintained his career as a painter. Like his fellow artists in the Contemporary Group founded by George Lambert and Thea Proctor, he contributed to the development of the modern movement in Sydney through an approach which emphasised formal construction. Using the framework of architecture, Moore's view of 'Sydney Harbour' was taken from the balcony of his house in the eastern Sydney suburb of Vaucluse. His well-regarded landscapes, more often in the medium of watercolour, arose from a love of sketching out-of-doors and for the watercolours of English artists John Sell Cotman, Constable, James Innes and Wilson Steer.




Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


91.5 x 122.5 cm stretcher; 119.5 x 150.5 x 6.5 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.l. corner, brown oil "JOHN D MOORE 36".


Purchased 1936

Accession number


Artist information

John D. Moore

Works in the collection


Shown in 10 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 19 publications


Herbert Badham, A gallery of Australian art, 'Introduction', pg. v-vii., Sydney, 1954, xiii, (illus.). plate no. 27

Herbert Badham, A study of Australian art, Sydney, 1949, (illus.). plate no. 40

Caroline Butler-Bowden, Sydney moderns: art for a new world, 'Art deco, modern life and the internationalism of Sydney', pg. 140-143, Sydney, 2013, 141 (colour illus.), 217, 314, 323.

Alan Close, Reader's Digest, 'Ode to Sydney', 29-31., Sydney, Sep 2000, 29 (colour illus.).

Alan Close, Good Weekend, 'Ode to Sydney', pg. 55-56, Sydney, 15 Apr 2000, 55 (colour illus.).

Peter Emmett, Sydney: metropolis, suburb, harbour, 'Harbour', pg. 123-124, Glebe, 2000, 151, 152 (illus.).

Ernestine Hill, Australia Land of Contrasts, Sydney, pre 1949, (colour illus.).

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 145 (colour illus.).

Barbara Konkolowicz, Look, 'Big Blue Sydney Harbour Through The Eyes of Artists', pg. 20-21, Heidelberg, May 1997, 20 (colour illus.).

Lionel Lindsay, 150 years of Australian art, Sydney, 1938. 62

Hal Missingham, A retrospective exhibition of Australian painting, Sydney, 1953. 143

Ian North, Expanse: Aboriginalities, spatialities and the politics of ecstasy, Adelaide, 1998, frontispiece (colour illus.), 26.

Barry Pearce, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Earth, sky and paint', pg. 149-150, Sydney, 2000, 152 (colour illus.), 301.

John Slater, Through artists' eyes: Australian suburbs and their cities 1919-1945, 'Continuity and change', pg. 35-70, Melbourne, 2004, 65, 66 (colour illus.). 48

Howard Tanner and Inara Walden, Thoroughly modern Sydney: 1920s and 30s glamour & style, Sydney, 2006, 10. List of works.

The Brett Whiteley Studio (Editor), Big blue: the painted harbour (list of works), Sydney, 1997.

Sydney Ure Smith (Editor), Art of Australia 1788-1941, New York, 1941, 41. 87

Kenneth Wilkinson (Editor), Art in Australia [series 3, no. 70], Sydney, Mar 1938, 35 (colour illus.).

Editor Unknown (Editor), The Home annual: Australian life and scenery, Sydney, Oct 1938, 29 (colour illus.).