(Australia, England 20 Aug 1871–23 Jan 1955)
107.5 x 178.8cm stretcher; 155.7 x 228.0 x 9.0cm frame
When Sydney Long exhibited his art-nouveau masterpiece ‘Pan’ in 1898, it cemented his reputation as a painter who was leading a shift toward a more abstract painting in Australia. Praised locally, Long was also recognised by the influential British art journal ‘Studio’ as a painter of ‘imaginative design’ and one who, through works such as ‘Pan’, contributed a distinct vision to late 19th-century Australian painting.1
Born in Goulburn, NSW in 1871, Long arrived in Sydney in the early 1890s. While an art student under Julian Ashton, he began exhibiting works at the Art Society of NSW in 1894. With his artistic debut - the critically acclaimed ‘By tranquil waters’ (purchased by the Art Gallery of NSW in that year) - Long initiated a series of bush idylls in which he increasingly abstracted natural forms for an expression of place based on moods of enchantment.
‘Pan’ is the finest of Long’s 1890s series of pastoral paintings. The work is set in the twilight of a gum-treed Arcadia, where the pagan god of nature plays his reed pipe to a gathering of nymphs and satyrs. Allusions to Pan’s music are used to visually transpose the landscape into a series of rhythmic art-nouveau arabesques, whose movement is echoed in the crooks and curves of the dancing bodies of the bush pagans. Fusing decorative style with mythological subject matter, Long presented an alternative vision of the Australian landscape, painting it not in terms of its representational qualities, but transforming it into an arena of sensation and emotion.
‘Pan’ is a key example of Symbolist-inspired painting in Australia. Symbolism was an influential late 19th-century movement characterised by works expressing ideas, mood and dream states over material realities, and its artists often employed art nouveau’s sensuous arabesque forms as a means of expressing these metaphysical domains. Pan’s subject matter similarly reflects the Symbolist resurgence of Arcadian pagan gods as poetic embodiments of bucolic liberty and erotic frisson.
Reflecting the influence of international art practices, ‘Pan’ was something of a feat given that Long had not yet ventured out of his home state of New South Wales when he painted it. It may represent the influence of art journals such as ‘Studio’ on Long’s artistic imagination, yet ‘Pan’ also demonstrates his inspired interpretation of international art forms for a culturally specific and modern representation of the Australian landscape during the period when it developed as a potent artistic symbol of the nation’s identity.
1 ‘Studio’, London, vol 13, no 62, May 1898, pp 268–69
‘Australian symbolism: the art of dreams’ by Joanna Mendelssohn, pg. 309., Art & Australia Summer 2012, Summer 2012, 309 (colour illus.). exhibition review
Denise Mimmocchi (Australia) (Author), Australian Symbolism: the art of dreams, Sydney, 2012, 111, 114-115 (colour illus.).
Anne Gray (Australia, b.1947) (Curator), Sydney Long: the spirit of the land, Canberra, 2012, cover (colour illus., detail), 45, 49, 50, 51, 52 (colour illus., detail), 53, 54, 60, 64, 65, 68, 94 (colour illus.), 95, 97, 99, 105. cat.no. 11
'Arcadia with gum trees' by Denise Mimmocchi, pg. 31., Look Jun 2009, Jun 2009, 31 (colour illus.).
Denise Mimmocchi (Australia) (Author), Australian Collection Focus: Sydney Long - Pan, Sydney, 2009, cover (colour illus., detail), 1, 2 (colour illus.), 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12.
'Nature boy pays tribute to the great pan' by Luke Slattery, pg. 6-7, The Australian financial review 14 Oct 2005, 14 Oct 2005, (illus.).
Grahame Kime (Australia) (Author), Heaven on earth: Visions of arcadia, Gymea, 2005, (colour illus.). not paginated; list of works
Ron Radford (Australia, b.1949) (Author), Our country: Australian Federation landscape 1900-1914, Adelaide, 2001, 88.
Robert Rosenblum (Author), MaryAnne Stevens (United Kingdom) (Author), Ann Dumas (Author), 1900: Art at the crossroads, London, 2000, 102, 106 (colour illus.), 403, 438. cat.no. 33
Barry Pearce (Australia) (Author), Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Domain, 2000, 85 (colour illus.), 301.
Bruce James (Australia) (Author), Edmund Capon (England; Australia, b.1940) (Director), Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, Domain, 1999, 123 (colour illus.).
Norman Talbot (Australia) (Author), Myths & Stories, Lies & Truth, Australia, 1998, cover (illus.).
Lynne Seear (Australia) (Editor), Julie Ewington (Australia) (Editor), Brought to light: Australian Art 1850-1965, South Brisbane, 1998, 76, 78 (colour illus.), 79.
Christopher Allen (Australia) (Author), Art in Australia: from Colonization to Postmodernism, London, 1997, 86, 87 (illus.). plate no. 66
Ewen McDonald (Australia) (Editor), The Art Gallery of New South Wales collections, Sydney, 1994, 22 (colour illus.).
Leigh Astbury (b.1950) (Author), Sunlight and shadow: Australian impressionist painters 1880-1900, Rushcutters Bay, 1989, 174, 175 (colour illus.). plate no. 130
Annabel Davie (Editor), Art Gallery of New South Wales Handbook, Domain, 1988, 20.
Ron Radford (Australia, b.1949) (Author), City of Ballarat Fine Art Gallery (Australia), Australian Gallery Directors Council, Art nouveau in Australia, Sydney, 1980. 'Pan' only shown at S.H. Ervin Gallery July-August 1980.
Bernard Smith (Australia, b.1916, d.2011) (Author), Place, taste and tradition: a study of Australian art since 1788, South Melbourne, 1979, 134 (illus.), 135. plate no. 47
Joanna Mendelssohn (Australia, b.1949) (Author), The life and work of Sydney Long, Sydney, 1979, front dust jacket (colour illus.), frontispiece (colour illus.), 9-10, 46 (colour illus.), 57-58, 64, 73. 74-75, 78-80, 109, 118, 229. frontispiece double-page colour illus.; cat.no. 60
Joanna Mendelssohn (Australia, b.1949) (Author), Sydney Long, Sydney, 1979, cover (colour illus.), 5, 10. cat.no. 12
Editor Unknown (Editor), Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Domain, 1972, 87 (colour illus.).
Author Unknown (Author), The Art Gallery of New South Wales Picture Book, Sydney, 1972, 87 (illus.).
Bernard Smith (Australia, b.1916, d.2011) (Author), Australian painting 1788-1970, South Melbourne, 1971, 102-103.
Robert Hughes (Australia; United States of America, b.1938, d.2012) (Author), The art of Australia, Ringwood, 1970, 12, 79 (illus.), 80.
Bernard Smith (Australia, b.1916, d.2011) (Author), A catalogue of Australian oil paintings in the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1875-1952, Sydney, 1953, 126.
Herbert Badham (Australia, b.1899, d.1961) (Author), A study of Australian art, Sydney, 1949, 70.
Sydney Long (Australia; England, b.1871, d.1955) (Author), Sydney Long, A.R.E., loan exhibition 1941, Domain, 1941. cat.no. 47
The Sydney Morning Herald 23 Jul 1938, 23 Jul 1938, page unknown.
‘National Art Gallery: The Australian Court’ by Julian Ashton., Daily telegraph 27 Sep 1905, 27 Sep 1905, unknown.
'Sid Long, Landscapist' by D.H. Souter, pg. 64, Art and architecture Mar 1905, Mar 1905, 64.
A.A.A : all about Australians Mar 1902, Mar 1902, 216 (illus.).
The studio : an illustrated magazine of fine and applied art Feb 1899, Feb 1899, 58 (illus.).
National Art Gallery of New South Wales (Australia, estab. 1874) (Author), Catalogue of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1899, Sydney, 1899. cat.no. 269, Oil Paintings-Australian, titled 'Pan'
Bulletin 03 Sep 1898, 03 Sep 1898, page unknown.
Society of Artists (Australia, estab. 1895, closed 1965) (Author), Society of Artists Spring Exhibition (1898), Sydney, Sep 1898, 4 (illus.). cat.no. 81. This image appears opposite page 4 and is a line illustration.
'Society of Artists' Exhibition'., The Sydney Morning Herald 27 Aug 1898, 27 Aug 1898. see AGNSW Press Clippings 1894-1906, pg. 187.
'Society of Artists. Annual Spring Show. A Fine Collection. Some Melbourne Work'., Daily telegraph 27 Aug 1898, 27 Aug 1898, (illus.). see AGNSW Press Clipping 1894-1906, pg. 187
Society of Artists Spring Exhibition (1898), Vickery's Chambers, 27 Aug 1898–Sep 1898.
Sydney Long, A.R.E.: loan exhibition, National Art Gallery of New South Wales, 09 Apr 1941–31 May 1941.
A memorial exhibition of a selection of paintings by Sydney Long 1878-1955, National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Oct 1955 -.
Sydney Long (1979), S.H. Ervin Gallery, 22 Aug 1979–07 Nov 1979.
1900: Art at the crossroads, Royal Academy of Arts, 15 Jan 2000–03 Apr 2000.
1900: Art at the crossroads, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 19 May 2000–13 Sep 2000.
Heaven on Earth: Visions of Arcadia, Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre, 01 Oct 2005–27 Nov 2005.
Australian Collection Focus: Sydney Long: Pan, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 06 Jun 2009–30 Aug 2009.
Sydney Long: the spirit of the land, National Gallery of Australia, 17 Aug 2012–11 Nov 2012.