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An image of The mockers by Arthur Boyd

Arthur Boyd

(Australia, England 24 Jul 1920 – 24 Apr 1999)

The mockers
Place of origin
Media category
Materials used
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.
Purchased 1965
Accession number
Not on display
Further information

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.

Bibliography (38)

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

Jane Alexander, Sea of dreams: Port Phillip Bay 1915-2013: Part Two, 'Introduction', pg. 9-15, Mornington, 2013, 12, 13 (colour illus.), 50.

Paul Magin, The Murrumbeena Boyds: just like us; but different, Caulfield, 2006, 18. List of works.

Jean Hillier and Denis Cryle (Editors), Consent and consensus: Politics, media and governance in twentieth century Australia, Perth, 2005, front cover (colour illus.).

Helen Verity Hewitt, Patrick White, painter, manqué: paintings, painters and their influence on his writing, 'Jerusalem', pg. 54-64, Carlton, 2002, 61.

Rosemary Crumlin., O Soul O Spirit O Fire, 'Beginnings', Brisbane, 2001, not paginated. exhibition list

Mary Woodburne, Look, 'Arthur Boyd 1921-1999: The mockers', pg. 38, South Yarra, Jun 2000, 38 (colour illus.). Australian Icon series

Janet McKenzie, Arthur Boyd: Art and life, London, 2000, 64 (colour illus., detail), 65-66.

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.

Susan McCulloch-Uehlin, The Weekend Australian, 'The lie of the land', pg. 16-19, Surry Hills, 20 Nov 1999-21 Nov 1999, 18.

Barry Pearce, Look, 'The legacy in Sydney Arthur Boyd', pg. 18-20, South Yarra, Jul 1999, 20.

Jenny Aland and Max Darby (Editors), Art Connections, 'Why talk and write about artworks', pg. 89-92, Port Melbourne, 1998, 91 (colour illus.).

Barry Humphries, Australians on Arthur Boyd, 'A conscientious chaperon', pg. 4-6, Melbourne, 1998, 4 (colour illus.).

Barry Pearce, Arthur Boyd retrospective, Sydney, 1993, 64 (colour illus.). 46

Ursula De Jong, Art and architecture of twentieth century: Australia and the West: Study guide, Geelong, 1993, 87 (illus.).

Jenny Aland, Art connections, Port Melbourne, 1991, 91 (colour illus.).

Patricia Dobrez and Peter Herbst, The art of the Boyds: generations of artistic achievement, Sydney, 1990, 100 (colour illus.). plate no. 93

Peter Fuller', Modern painters, 'Arthur Boyd interviewed, pg. 20-26, London, Summer 1990, 22 (illus.).

Barry Pearce, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian', pg. 13-35, Sydney, 1988, 24.

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. 112

Dr Ursula Hoff, The art of Arthur Boyd, London, 1986, 17-18, 42-43. 36

Martin Terry, Masterpieces of Australian Painting, Sydney, 1984, 149 (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).

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Sydney, 1972, 113 (colour illus.).

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.).

Franz Philipp, Arthur Boyd, London, 1967, XII (illus.), 241. 3.1, Biblical Paintings 1945-50, including The Grange Frescoes

Mervyn Horton (Editor), Art and Australia, Sydney, Sep 1965, 118 (illus.).

Daniel Thomas (Editor), 1965 Acquisitions, Sydney, 1965, 13-14.

Margaret Garlick, Dissent: a radical quarterly, 'The extremes of Arthur Boyd', pg. 21-23, Melbourne, Spring 1964, 22.

Ray Matthew, London magazine, 'Arthur Boyd', pg. 38-42, London, Aug 1963, 39.

Whitechapel Art Gallery and Arthur Boyd, Arthur Boyd: retrospective exhibition (1962), London, 1962. 28

Ursula Hoff, Meanjin, 'The paintings of Arthur Boyd', pg. 143-147, Carlton, Jun 1958, 144.

James Gleeson, Contemporary Australian painting, Unknown, 1956. 5, lent by the artist

John Reed, Ern Malley's journal, 'Arthur Boyd: a personal reaction to his painting and career', pg. 29-32, Melbourne, Nov 1954, 31.

Laurence Thomas, Twelve Australian artists, 'Introduction', pg. 6-10, London, 1953, 16. 33

F.A.Philipp, Present opinion, 'On three paintings by Arthur Boyd', pg. 9-14, Melbourne, 1947, 11 (illus.).

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.

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.

Exhibition history (16)

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:

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):

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

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