Born into an extraordinarily artistic family, Arthur Boyd is considered one of Australia’s greatest painters of the 20th century. In the 1940s, he produced a series of paintings which tackled overtly biblical themes, set predominantly within the Victorian landscape near the Boyd family property at Murrumbeena, close to Port Phillip Bay.
'The mockers' is one of a series of about 15 paintings executed between 1945 and 1948 after Boyd’s discharge from the army. Responding to the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps, witnessed through newsreel footage, Boyd drew on his knowledge of the allegories of Pieter Breugel the Elder and Hieronymus Bosch, in an attempt to find a personal answer to the moral chaos and social disorder he observed.
oil on canvas on hardboard
84.3 x 102.2 cm board; 86.2 x 104.0 x 3.0 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed l.l., black oil "Arthur Boyd". Not dated.
Not on display
Shown in 16 exhibitions
Contemporary Art Society Eighth Annual Interstate Exhibition (1946), Vickery's Galleries, Sydney, 12 Nov 1946–28 Nov 1946
Arthur Boyd (1950), David Jones' Art Gallery, Sydney, Sydney, 04 Sep 1950–16 Sep 1950
Twelve Australian Artists:
- Victoria Art Gallery, Bath, Bath 05 Sep 1953–26 Sep 1953
- City of Bradford Art Gallery, Bradford 03 Oct 1953–24 Oct 1953
- Derby Art Gallery, Derby 05 Dec 1953–26 Dec 1953
- City Museum & Art Gallery, Bristol, Bristol 02 Jan 1954–23 Jan 1954
- City of Belfast Museum and Art Gallery, Northern Ireland 30 Jan 1954–20 Feb 1954
- New Burlington Galleries, London 12 Jul 1954–22 Aug 1954
Contemporary Australian Painting - Pacific Loan Exhibition (1956):
Arthur Boyd: Allegorical paintings (1958), Australian Galleries, Melbourne, Collingwood, 22 Apr 1958–05 May 1958
Arthur Boyd retrospective (1962), Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, Jun 1962–Jul 1962
Arthur Boyd retrospective exhibition (1964), Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 07 Mar 1964–21 Mar 1964
Arthur Boyd retrospective (1964), Museum of Modern Art and Design, 05 May 1964–28 May 1964
Aspects of Australian Figurative Painting 1942-1962: Dreams, Fears and Desires (The 5th Biennale of Sydney), S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney, 11 Apr 1984–17 Jun 1984
Angry Penguins and Realist Painting in Melbourne in the 1940s:
Arthur Boyd retrospective (1993-1994):
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 15 Dec 1993–06 Mar 1994
- National Gallery of Victoria [St Kilda Road], Melbourne 30 Mar 1994–23 May 1994
- Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart 09 Jun 1994–21 Aug 1994
- Art Gallery of Western Australia, Australia 22 Sep 1994–20 Nov 1994
Australian icons: twenty artists from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Aug 2000–03 Dec 2000
O Soul O Spirit O Fire: Celebrating Fifty Years of the Blake Prize for Religious Art, Queensland University of Technology, Australia, 23 Nov 2001–24 Feb 2002
The Murrumbeena Boyds, Glen Eira City Council Gallery, Caulfield, 19 Oct 2006–05 Nov 2006
Australian modern masterpieces from the Art Gallery of New South Wales:
Sea of dreams: Port Phillip Bay 1915–2013 (Part two), Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, Mornington, 14 Dec 2013–02 Mar 2014
Referenced in 38 publications
Jenny Aland and Max Darby (Editors), Art Connections, 'Why talk and write about artworks', pg. 89-92, Port Melbourne, 1998, 91 (colour illus.).
Jenny Aland, Art connections, Port Melbourne, 1991, 91 (colour illus.).
Jane Alexander, Sea of dreams: Port Phillip Bay 1915-2013: Part Two, 'Introduction', pg. 9-15, Mornington, 2013, 12, 13 (colour illus.), 50.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Sydney, 1972, 113 (colour illus.).
Diana Brydon, Mosaic: a journal for the comparative study of literature, 'Tradition and Post-Colonialism: Hugh Hood and Martin Boyd', pg.1-15, Winnipeg, Sep 1982, 6 (illus.), 8 (illus. detail),11, 12 (illus. detail).
Our Art Critic, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Contemporary art more conservative', pg 5, Sydney, 12 Nov 1946, unknown. Review of Eighth Interstate Exhibition of the CAS.
Rosemary Crumlin., O Soul O Spirit O Fire, 'Beginnings', Brisbane, 2001, not paginated. exhibition list
Ursula De Jong, Art and architecture of twentieth century: Australia and the West: Study guide, Geelong, 1993, 87 (illus.).
Patricia Dobrez and Peter Herbst, The art of the Boyds: generations of artistic achievement, Sydney, 1990, 100 (colour illus.). plate no. 93
F.A.Philipp, Present opinion, 'On three paintings by Arthur Boyd', pg. 9-14, Melbourne, 1947, 11 (illus.).
Peter Fuller', Modern painters, 'Arthur Boyd interviewed, pg. 20-26, London, Summer 1990, 22 (illus.).
Margaret Garlick, Dissent: a radical quarterly, 'The extremes of Arthur Boyd', pg. 21-23, Melbourne, Spring 1964, 22.
James Gleeson, Contemporary Australian painting, Unknown, 1956. cat.no. 5, lent by the artist
Sasha Grishin, Australian art: a history, 'Murrumbeena and the humanist tradition in Melbourne art', pg. 332-347, Carlton, 2013, 340, 341 (colour illus.), 550, 557. plate no. 33.6
Helen Verity Hewitt, Patrick White, painter, manqué: paintings, painters and their influence on his writing, 'Jerusalem', pg. 54-64, Carlton, 2002, 61.
Jean Hillier and Denis Cryle (Editors), Consent and consensus: Politics, media and governance in twentieth century Australia, Perth, 2005, front cover (colour illus.).
Dr Ursula Hoff, The art of Arthur Boyd, London, 1986, 17-18, 42-43. cat.no. 36
Ursula Hoff, Meanjin, 'The paintings of Arthur Boyd', pg. 143-147, Carlton, Jun 1958, 144.
Mervyn Horton (Editor), Art and Australia, Sydney, Sep 1965, 118 (illus.).
Barry Humphries, Australians on Arthur Boyd, 'A conscientious chaperon', pg. 4-6, Melbourne, 1998, 4 (colour illus.).
Paul Magin, The Murrumbeena Boyds: just like us; but different, Caulfield, 2006, 18. List of works.
Ray Matthew, London magazine, 'Arthur Boyd', pg. 38-42, London, Aug 1963, 39.
Susan McCulloch-Uehlin, The Weekend Australian, 'The lie of the land', pg. 16-19, Sydney, 20 Nov 1999-21 Nov 1999, 18.
Janet McKenzie, Arthur Boyd: Art and life, London, 2000, 64 (colour illus., detail), 65-66.
Barry Pearce, Arthur Boyd retrospective, Sydney, 1993, 64 (colour illus.). cat.no. 46
Barry Pearce, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian', pg. 13-35, Sydney, 1988, 24.
Barry Pearce, Look, 'The legacy in Sydney Arthur Boyd', pg. 18-20, Melbourne, Jul 1999, 20.
Franz Philipp, Arthur Boyd, London, 1967, XII (illus.), 241. cat.no. 3.1, Biblical Paintings 1945-50, including The Grange Frescoes
John Reed, Ern Malley's journal, 'Arthur Boyd: a personal reaction to his painting and career', pg. 29-32, Melbourne, Nov 1954, 31.
Barrett Reid, Bernard William Smith, Janine Burke, Charles Merewether, Christine Dixon and Max Harris, Angry Penguins and Realist Painting in Melbourne in the 1940s, London, 1988, 76, 131 (illus.), 169. cat.no. 112
T G Rosenthal., Retrospective exhibition of paintings, drawings and other work by Arthur Boyd: 14 April to 10 May 1969, 'The art of Arthur Boyd', Edinburgh, 1969, (illus.).
Martin Terry, Masterpieces of Australian Painting, Sydney, 1984, 149 (colour illus.).
Daniel Thomas (Editor), 1965 Acquisitions, Sydney, 1965, 13-14.
Laurence Thomas, Twelve Australian artists, 'Introduction', pg. 6-10, London, 1953, 16. cat.no. 33
Whitechapel Art Gallery and Arthur Boyd, Arthur Boyd: retrospective exhibition (1962), London, 1962. cat.no. 28
Natalie Wilson, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Out of Melbourne: realisms and mythologies', pg. 163-164, Sydney, 2000, 164, 172 (colour illus.), 300.
Mary Woodburne, Look, 'Arthur Boyd 1921-1999: The mockers', pg. 38, Melbourne, Jun 2000, 38 (colour illus.). Australian Icon series
Editor Unknown (Editor), Daily telegraph and daily news, 'Emotional art in exhibition', Sydney, 13 Nov 1946, unknown. Review of Eighth Interstate Exhibition of the CAS.