Exhibited in Paris at the Old Salon in 1890, 'Tritons' was the first painting by an Australian to receive an honourable mention. The work depicts a group of tritons – legendary creatures who lived both on land and at sea – enjoying an idle moment in their tranquil surroundings, and introduces some of the features which would come to characterise the artist’s work: a fascination for mythological subjects and the portrayal of the exotic within an intimate setting. Rupert Bunny has skilfully created a twilight ambience through delicate colour schemes, where the pale blue, silvery ocean and pink-toned sky are quietly reflected in the flesh tones of the figures.
oil on canvas
80.3 x 150.5 cm stretcher; 109.3 x 179.1 x 5.5 cm frame; 78.5 x 148.0 cm sight edge
Signature & date
Signed l.r., black oil "Rupert C.W. Bunny.". Not dated.
Where the work was made
Shown in 5 exhibitions
Salon de la Société des Artistes Français, 1890, Société des artistes Français, 1890–1890
Loan Exhibition - Collection of Paintings and Drawings by Australian Artists executed during the last 25 to 35 Years (1918), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 01 Apr 1918–30 Apr 1918
On the Beach, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 08 Dec 1982–28 Dec 1982
Stampede of the Lower Gods: Classical Mythology in Australian Art 1890's-1930's, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 19 Oct 1989–26 Nov 1989
Parallel Visions: Twenty-two artists from the Australian collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 22 Feb 2002–May 2003
Referenced in 15 publications
Christopher Allen, The Weekend Australian Review, 'What lies beneath? Rupert Bunny comes in for close scrutiny in a new survey exhibition', pg. 14-15, Canberra, 12 Dec 2009-13 Dec 2009, 14.
Jane Clark, Parallel visions: works from the Australian collection, 'Rupert Bunny / E. Phillips Fox', pg. 20-31, Sydney, 2002, 20 (colour illus.), 21, 142, 147.
Mary Eagle, The Art of Rupert Bunny, Parkes, 1991, 22-25, 22 (illus.), 257.
Deborah Edwards, Rupert Bunny: artist in Paris, 'From fin de siécle to belle époque', pg. 31- 101., Sydney, 2009, 36, 38-39 (colour illus.), 40, 44, 143, 157,190, 203 (colour illus.). cat.no. 4
Deborah Edwards, Look, 'Rupert Bunny: An exotic in the history of Australian art', pg. 28-32, Sydney, Nov 2009, 29, 31.
Deborah Edwards, Stampede of the Lower Gods: Classical Mythology in Australian Art, 'The Expatriates', pg. 3-8, Sydney, Sep 1989, 3, 4 (illus.), 63.
Anne Gérard, Look, 'Oz arts: our painters in the Paris Salons', pg. 37-39, Sydney, Dec 2006-Jan 2007, 37 (colour illus.), 39.
Desmond Macaulay and Bettina Macaulay, Singing in the heart: Music and the art of Rupert Bunny, 'From sea to shore in the early Belle Epoque', pg. 35-45, Queensland, 2007, 35, 35 (colour illus.).
John McDonald, Art of Australia. Vol 1: Exploration to Federation, ‘The only school of art’, pg. 485-544, Sydney, 2008, 520, 521 (colour illus.).
Linda Slutzkin, On the beach, Sydney, 1982, 6 (illus.). cat.no. 1
Daniel Thomas, Art and Australia, 'Australian collection', pg. 52-62, Sydney, Jul 1972, 52 (colour illus.).
David Thomas, Art and Australia [vol. 9, no. 4], 'Rupert Bunny', pg. 328-337, Sydney, Mar 1972, 328.
David Thomas, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Rupert Bunny', pg. 550-575, Sydney, Oct 1970, 550, 551 (illus.), 552, 554.
David Thomas, Rupert Bunny, 'Paris and the Old Salon 1886-1900', pg.20-38, East Melbourne, 1970, 13 (colour illus.), 24, 26, 28, 38, 114. plate no. 1
Editor Unknown (Editor), Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Acquisitions for 1969', pg. 538, Sydney, Jul 1970, 540 (illus.), 541. plate no. 9