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An image of Rhythmic composition in yellow green minor by Roy de Maistre

Roy de Maistre

(Australia, England 27 Mar 1894 – 01 Mar 1968)

Rhythmic composition in yellow green minor
Other titles:
Frozen Music, 1919
Media category
Materials used
oil on paperboard

85.3 x 115.3 cm board; 89.5 x 119.9 x 5.0 cm frame

Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Purchased 1960
Accession number
© Caroline de Mestre Walker
20th & 21st c Australian art
Further information

In late 1918, Roy de Maistre collaborated with fellow artist Roland Wakelin in exploring the relationship between art and music. Their experiments produced Australia's first abstract paintings, characterised by high-key colour, large areas of flat paint and simplified forms. The works received critical acclaim, but modernist developments were largely derided by the conservative establishment.

This painting exemplifies de Maistre's theory of colour harmonisation based on analogies between colours of the spectrum and notes of the musical scale. It is also aligned with de Maistre's search for spiritual meaning through abstraction, akin to other artists such as Kandinsky who were interested in the ideas of the theosophy and anthroposophy movements, spiritualism and the occult.

Bibliography (34)

Kate Bowan, Colour in art: Revisiting 1919, 'The very song of life: A musical context for the 1919 colour in art exhibition', pg.19-21, Paddington, 2008, 5, 7, 20, 21 (colour illus.), 36 (colour illus.), 62.

Mary Eagle, Australian Modern Painting Between the Wars 1914-1939, 'De Maistre's war', pg. 42-51, Sydney, 1989, 44, 45 (colour illus.). plate no. 28

Deborah Edwards, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Moderns', pg. 103-104, Sydney, 2000, 103 (colour illus.), 104, 108 (colour illus., detail), 109 (colour illus.), 301.

Adam Geczy, Video Logic, 'Music + Video = I See Music', pg. 67-74, Sydney, 2008, 68, 69 (colour illus.).

Lesley Harding, Cubism & Australian art, 'L'Esprit Nouveau 1913-1929', pg. 19-47, Carlton, 2009, 23, 24 (colour illus.).

Helen Verity Hewitt, Patrick White, painter, manqué: paintings, painters and their influence on his writing, 'Strangers in the Motherland', pg. 5-19, Carlton, 2002, 7.

Lois Hunter, The Australian art companion - A selection of influential artists, 'Roy de Maistre', pg. 24-25, Balgowlah Heights, (1990), 24, 25 (colour illus.).

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales Handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 136 (colour illus.).

Bruce James, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Milking works for a moment in the sun', pg. 13, Sydney, 03 Apr 2002, 13. Review of 'Parallel Visions' exhibition

Heather Johnson, Roy de Maistre; The Australian years 1894-1930, 'Colour music 1919', pg. 29-38, 1988, 35, 36 (colour illus.), 37-8, 97, 121. plate no. 8

Heather Johnson, Parallel visions: works from the Australian collection, 'Roy de Maistre / Roland Wakelin', pg. 48-59, Sydney, 2002, 4-5 (colour illus., detail), 48, 49 (colour illus.), 51, 142, 147.

Heather Johnson, Brought to light: Australian Art 1850-1965, 'Reality or Religious Fantasy? Roy de Maistre and Herbert Badham', pg. 218-223, South Brisbane, 1998, 218, 222, 223 (colour illus.).

John MacDonald, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Men of colours: Australia's early abstract paintings are music to the eyes', pg. 16-17, Sydney, 13 Sep 2008-14 Sep 2008, 16 (colour illus.), 17.

David Marr, Patrick White: A life by David Marr, Milsons Point, 1991, 147.

Maura McDonnell, Visual music marathon, 'Visual music', pg. 2-20, Boston, 2007, 4 (colour illus.).

Jenny McFarlane, Concerning the Spiritual: The influence of the Theosophical Society on Australian Artists 1890-1934, ‘Science versus Spirit: Colour-Music in Sydney’, pg.122-153, North Melbourne, 2012, 82 (colour illus.), 137, 139-140. Note: colour plate pages in between pg. 82-83 are unnumbered.

Jenny McFarlane, Art and Australia (Vol. 40, No. 2), '"Colour in art" and Alexander Hector's Electric Colour-Music Organ', pg. 292-297, St Leonards, Dec 2002-Feb 2003, 292-293 (colour illus.), 296.

Annabel Pegus, Look, 'Resonance of colour and music: a parallel vision that reached out to another generation', pg. 12-13, Newtown, May 2002, 12 (colour illus.), 13.

Annabel Pegus, Modern times: the untold story of modernism in Australia, '2 Colour in art', pg. 16-21, Sydney, 2008, 18 (colour illus.), 20.

Laura Pia, Look, 'Colour music: Composing paintings with colours as notes', pg. 34-37, Newtown, Jul 2008, 37 (colour illus.).

Donald Richardson, Art & Design in Australia, South Yarra, 1995.

John Rothenstein, London magazine, 'Roy de Maistre', pg. 32-37, London, Aug 1963, 34.

Bernard William Smith and Terry Smith, Australian painting 1788-1990, 'Leviticus 1913-32', pg. 167-204, South Melbourne, 1991, 191 (colour illus.). 111

Daniel Thomas, Symposium papers: Colour in art - revisiting 1919 & R-Balson, 'Keynote address: Modern Australia: Colour in art 1910s-1950s', pg. 3-11, Paddington, 2008, 6, 10, 20.

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Daniel Thomas (Curator), Project 14: Roy de Maistre 1894-1968, Sydney, 1976. 49; not paginated

Daniel Thomas, Sydney moderns: art for a new world, 'Foreword', pg. 11-12, Sydney, 2013, 11, 20 (colour illus.), 21, 22, 27, 46, 312.

Daniel Thomas, Grace Cossington Smith, 'Modernity and inwards', pg. 102-107, Canberra, 2005, 103.

Wayne Tunnicliffe and Deborah Edwards, The Sydney Morning Herald, ‘New Australia’, pg. 24-27, Sydney, 08 Dec 1997, 24.

Roland Wakelin, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Post Impressionism in Sydney: Some personal recollections', pg. 91-95, Sydney, Jan 1962, 92, 93 (illus.).

Anthony White, The Cambridge companion to Australian Art, 'Foreign natives: Australian Modernism 1915-1955', pg. 109-121, Port Melbourne, 2011, 111, 354. 9.2 (colour illus.)

Judith White, Look, 'Olympians of Australian art', pg. 16-18, South Yarra, Jul 2000, 18 (colour illus.).

J.F. Williams', Art and Australia, 'Modernism & the lost generation', pg. 52-57, Sydney, Spring 1991, 57 (colour illus.).

Grace Crowley's contribution to Australian modernism and geometric abstraction, Newcastle upon Tyne, 2010, 127.

Exhibition history (4)

Project 14 - Roy de Maistre: 1894-1968 (1976), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Sep 1976–04 Oct 1976

Parallel Visions: Twenty-two artists from the Australian collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 22 Feb 2002–May 2003

Colour in Art - revisiting 1919:

Sydney Moderns, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 06 Jul 2013–07 Oct 2013