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The marriage at Cana of Galilee

reworked 1863


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.


Other Title

The marriage of Cana at Galilee

Place where the work was made

Rome Italy


reworked 1863

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 7 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 39 publications


Pamela Bell, The University of Sydney exhibition: pictures from the collections, Sydney, 1988, 80, 82 (colour illus.), 95. 159

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.

"Old Chum", Truth, 'Old Sydney', pg. 12, Sydney, 26 Feb 1911, 12.

D.H.R., Age, 'Early Australian artist: career of Adelaide Ironside', pg. 9, Melbourne, 25 Feb 1950, 9.

Alciphron Jones, Sydney mail and New South Wales advertiser, 'Adelaide Ironside, artist', pg. 488, Sydney, 26 Mar 1881, 488.

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 (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.

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.

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.

William Moore, Brisbane courier, 'Art and artists', pg. 18, Brisbane, 10 Dec 1925, 18.

William Moore, The story of Australian art from the earliest known art of the continent to the art of today (Vol. 2), Sydney, 1934, 2, 3.

Reviewer, Queenslander, 'Powis' "Autumn leaves" ', pg. 1176, Brisbane, 29 Dec 1888, 1176.

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.).

Woloma, The World's news, 'Adelaide Eliza Ironside, painter and litterateur. Dr Lang's protege', pg. 4, Sydney, 07 Apr 1923, 4.

Empire, 'Telegraphic intelligence: Melbourne', pg. 4, Sydney, 05 Jan 1863, 4.

North Australian and Queensland general advertiser, 'New South Wales', pg. 4, Ipswich, 02 Dec 1862, 4.

The courier, 'The Courier. Save me from my friends', pg. 2, Brisbane, 01 Dec 1862, 2.

Empire, 'Miss Ironside and her famous painting at the Great Exhibition', pg. 5, Sydney, 19 Nov 1862, 5.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Miss Ironside', pg. 4, Sydney, 17 Nov 1862, 4. Letter written by Mr William Stirling and sent by Sir Daniel Cooper to the Sydney Morning Herald for publication. Mr Stirling 'is considered almost equal to Ruskin as a critic'.

Bathurst free press and mining journal, 'The Great Exhibition. New South Wales Court', pg. 2, Bathurst, 13 Aug 1862, 2.

Launceston Examiner, 'The Great Exhibition', pg. 3, Launceston, 15 Jul 1862, 3.

Sydney Mail, 'The New South Wales contributions to the International Exhibition', pg. 3, Sydney, 24 May 1862, 3. Contribution of Adelaide Ironside in the NSW Court.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 'The Art Gallery of New South Wales', pg. 3, Sydney, 23 Sep 1880, 3. "... 3 oil paintings, by the late Miss Ironside, lent by W. Redman, Esq.".

Catalogue of the natural and industrial products of New South Wales; with a map and introductory account of its population, commerce, and general resources, London, 1862. Oil Paintings, 317, "The Marriage in Cana of Galilee. By Adelaide E. Ironside; painted at Rome in 1861; exhibited by herself".

Unknown, Adelaide Ironside: the pilgrim of art, Sydney, 1987, 91-96, 111, 113, 132. 80, 'The Marriage at Cana of Galilee'

The Sydney Morning Herald, 'List of pictures in the "Art Gallery of New South Wales"', pg. 3, Sydney, 19 Apr 1879, 3. "Loan Pictures. Oil paintings (14 in number) ... The Marriage at Cana Adelaide E Ironside, lent by her executors".

Australian Town and Country Journal, 'Sydney picture gallery', pg. 28, Sydney, 26 Jan 1878, 28. Exhibition of work at the room of the 'New South Wales National Gallery', in Elizabeth Street.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Agricultural Society of New South Wales. Annual Show of 1872', pg. 6, Sydney, 18 May 1872, 6.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Non-agricultural. Section 1 - Fine Arts', pg. 2-3, Sydney, 06 May 1872, 2.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Non-agricultural. The Fine Arts', pg. 5, Sydney, 01 May 1872, 5.

Sydney Mail, 'The late Miss Ironside', pg. 5, Sydney, 04 Feb 1871, 5.

Sydney mail and New South Wales advertiser, 'Fine arts. Miss A.E. Ironside', pg. 57, Sydney, 04 Feb 1871, 57.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 'The late Miss Ironside', pg. 6, Sydney, 27 Jan 1871, 6.

Catholic press, 'The fairest daughter of Sydney: Adelaide Ironside', pg. 4-5, Sydney, 03 Feb 1900, 4-5.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Miss Ironside's paintings', pg. 7, Sydney, 21 Jan 1871, 7.

Evening news, 'The late Miss Ironside, the eminent Australian artist', pg. 4, Sydney, 18 Jan 1871, 4.

Australian Town and Country Journal, 'The late Miss Ironside: the eminent Australian artist', pg. 9-10, Sydney, 14 Jan 1871, 9-10.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Miss Ironside', pg. 4, Sydney, 16 May 1863, 4.