We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of New South Wales stands.

Inside the Grand Courts

Explore the themes in our Grand Courts displays and some of the artworks you’ll encounter.

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is transforming the galleries that display works from our extensive art collection, including a stunning reimagining of the Grand Courts on the ground level.

While historic international and Australian works remain the focus of the Grand Courts, along with a sprinkling of contemporary artworks, the emphasis is on moments of connection and reflection, and encouraging conversations between past and present, Indigenous and non-Indigenous art.

Installation view of Grand Courts featuring Morimura Yasumasa Mother (Judith II) 1991 (centre), Art Gallery of New South Wales © Yasumasa Morimura

Installation view of Grand Courts featuring Morimura Yasumasa Mother (Judith II) 1991 (centre), Art Gallery of New South Wales © Yasumasa Morimura

Urgent current issues can be seen in enduring themes, which include war and its consequences; and landscape as a real or imagined space that might suggest the respite of nature, or act as a declaration of contestation.

Baroque artists tackle the coexistence of the sacred and the worldly; Victorian-era artists grapple with the realities of gender, race and class (or find their escape in a world of dreams and beauty); and through the work of many Aboriginal artists, a picture of resilience, resistance and a continuing connection to land, waters and culture emerges.

Highlights of the Grand Courts include master prints from the Renaissance to the Romantic period by Albrecht Dürer, Hendrick Goltzius and others; sacred works by Sano di Pietro, Domenico Beccafumi and Prospero Fontana and worldly portraits by Giovanni Battista Moroni and Agnolo Bronzino; a new acquisition by Jusepe de Ribera, Aesop c1625–31; and one of the greatest modern British paintings in Australia, Ford Madox Brown’s Chaucer at the court of Edward III 1847–51.

Paintings in ornate gold frames hang in a red-walled gallery which also houses pole-like sculptures and a painting within a showcase

Installation view of the Grand Courts including Edward John Poynter The visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon 1881–90, Belachew Yimer The legend of the Queen of the South 1941 and Pascale Marthine Tayou Colonne Pascale 2012

A red-walled gallery hung with framed etching in front of which are small sculptures of demon-like creatures

Installation view of Grand Courts featuring Caroline Rothwell Attendants (after Schongauer) 2012 (centre), Art Gallery of New South Wales © Caroline Rothwell

A large gallery space with a moulded ceiling with vaulted skylight and blue walls hung with many paintings. Sculptures and display cases stand on the wooden floor.

Installation view of Grand Courts

A gallery space with blue walls and wooden floors displaying closely hung paintings as well as sculptures

Installation view of Grand Courts

A red-walled gallery hung with paintings with a series of sculptural objects and display cases displayed on the wooden floor

Installation of Grand Courts featuring Brook Andrew Tombs of thought © Brook Andrew. Courtesy the artist and Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne

Paintings by Indian artists from Chennai commissioned by the British East India Company, Chinese Jingdezhen ware and Kakiemon-style Japanese Arita ware are some of the Asian highlights.

A display of Francisco de Goya Y Lucientes’ Disasters of war etchings challenges Edouard Detaille’s Vive l’Empereur! 1891, and Edward John Poynter’s spectacular The visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon 1881–90 is shown in dialogue with the Gallery’s first African acquisition (in 1955) – Belachew Yimer’s The legend of the Queen of the South 1941 – and a new sculptural commission by Cameroonian artist Pascale Marthine Tayou.

An installation by Brook Andrew introduces the Indigenous Australian perspectives that resound throughout; colonial era watercolours of Sydney Harbour by Conrad Martens meet significant, contested landscapes by John Glover, WC Piguenit and Eugene von Guérard; and iconic paintings by beloved Australian artists Charles Conder, Tom Roberts, John Russell and Arthur Streeton are shown along with stellar works by leading European moderns Paul Cézanne and Claude Monet.

Important images of the First World War by war artist Evelyn Chapman join major works by fellow Australian women artists Adelaide Ironside, Dora Ohlfsen, Jane Sutherland and Violet Teague, who take their rightful prominent place alongside 17th-century Dutch painter Maria van Oosterwijck and Canadian Emily Carr.