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The marriage at Cana of Galilee



Adelaide Ironside


17 Nov 1831 - 15 Apr 1867


The first Australian-born artist to study in Europe, Adelaide Ironside aspired to history painting, the highest category of art in her day. 'The marriage at Cana of Galilee 1861' – the most important painting of her career – portrays Christ’s first public miracle, the transformation of water into wine during the marriage feast at Cana in Galilee.

Painted in Rome, 'The marriage' was exhibited at the Colonial Court of the 1862 International Exhibition in London. It was returned to Sydney after the artist’s premature death, and was owned for many years by the all-male St Paul’s College, University of Sydney.


Place where the work was made

Rome Italy



Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas on hardboard


106.1 x 147.7 board; 117.0 x 158.6 x 6.0 cm frame

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Gift of the Warden and Fellows of St Paul's College, University of Sydney 1992

Accession number


Artist information

Adelaide Ironside

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 5 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 7 publications


Janine Burke, Australian women artists 1840-1940, 'A banner of her own design: Adelaide Ironside', pg. 18-23, Collingwood, 1980, 21, 124 (colour illus.), 169, 170. plate 47; Collection of St Paul's College, University of Sydney.

Joan Kerr, Australian art collector, 'Colonial Phoenix: the market for Colonial art needs to be revised and renovated', pg. 72-74, Sydney, Oct 2001-Dec 2001, 73 (colour illus.).

Joan Kerr, A singular voice: essays on Australian art and architecture, 'Views, visages, invisibility: Themes in the art of colonial New South Wales', pg. 22-35, Sydney, 2009, 23 (illus.), 24, 44.

Joan Kerr (Editor), Heritage: The national women's art book, Sydney, 1995, 212 (colour illus.). 359. Entry by Pamela Bell. Biography by Ruth Teale pg. 378-379.

John McDonald, Art of Australia. Vol 1: Exploration to Federation, ‘Shelter of freedom and boast of the world’, pg. 225-270, Sydney, 2008, 246-247 (colour illus.), 248, 250.

Bernard William Smith, Place, taste and tradition: a study of Australian art since 1788, 'Art and gold', pg. 73-87, South Melbourne, 1979, 84-85, 86 (illus.). plate no. 31

Gough Whitlam, My Italian notebook, Sydney, 2002, front dust jacket (colour illus.).