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.
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
Where the work was made
Shown in 5 exhibitions
Great Exhibition, London 1862, Exhibition Venue Unknown, 1862–1862
(Adelaide Ironside) 1871, NSW Academy of Art, 1871–1871
Opening exhibition of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 22 Sep 1880–22 Sep 1880
Renaissance References in Australian Art, University Gallery, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, 13 Aug 1985–20 Sep 1985
Review: works by women from the permanent collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 08 Mar 1995–04 Jun 1995
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.). cat.no. 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.).