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Rupert Bunny

Australia, France

29 Sep 1864 - 25 May 1947


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.


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Robert Forster

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Place where the work was made

Paris France


(circa 1890)

Media category


Materials used

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.


Purchased 1969

Accession number


Artist information

Rupert Bunny

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 5 exhibitions

Exhibition history

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.). 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.). 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