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Australian art

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(circa 1890)


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

Artist profile

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