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Australian art

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Apsley Falls



Conrad Martens

England, Australia

21 Mar 1801 - 21 Aug 1878


This watercolour is credited as the first Australian work of art to enter the Gallery's collection. It was commissioned in 1874 by the trustees of the NSW Academy of Art at a cost of £50, and in March 1875 was awarded a gold medal for watercolour at the NSW Academy of Art exhibition. It is slightly larger than an earlier commission (made in 1873) for another Apsley Falls watercolour by the trustees of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Both watercolours were made from drawings Martens produced in 1852, on a trip to northern NSW and Queensland. Martens referred to the watercolour in his Account Book (State Library of NSW) and again on 28 October 1874: 'On the Apsley River. Size 31 x 22 for the Academy'. The Apsley Falls are on the Oxley River near Waterloo, between Walcha and Port Macquarie.

excerpt from Hendrik Kolenberg, Anne Ryan and Patricia James, '19th century Australian watercolours, drawings & pastels in the Gallery's collection', Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2005


Other Titles

Apsley Falls, New South Wales

View on the Apsley Ranges, New England

The Apsley Falls



Media category


Materials used

watercolour, opaque white, gum on paper


54.2 x 76.9 cm sight; 70.2 x 92.5 x 6.5 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. corner, brown watercolour "C Martens/ 1874".


Commissioned by the Trustees and purchased 1874


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Conrad Martens

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 9 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 17 publications


Helen Campbell, Look, 'Waterfall: an inspiration to travellers and artists', pg. 19, Sydney, Jun 2006, 19.

Susanna de Vries, Conrad Martens: on the Beagle and in Australia, Brisbane, 1993, 184 (colour illus.). plate no. 17 of limited edition

Deborah Edwards, Two centuries of Australian painting: a selection from the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Introduction', pg. 8-14, Sydney, 1986, 19 (illus.). 5

Shar Jones, Early painters of Australia, 1788-1880, Sydney, 1988, 176 (colour illus.). plate no. 134

Hendrik Kolenberg, 19th century Australian watercolours, drawing and pastels from the Gallery's collection, 'Introduction', pg. 6-16, Sydney, 2005, 6, 7 (colour illus., detail), 34, 35 (colour illus.).

Hendrik Kolenberg, Look, 'Australian images from the past: whether rarely seen or familiar, these works move and delight us', pg. 24-27, Sydney, Apr 2005, 24.

Hendrik Kolenberg, Nineteenth century Australian watercolours from the collection, Sydney, 1991. 51

Hendrik Kolenberg., Twentieth century Australian watercolours from the collection, 'Introduction', Sydney, 1989. This work was not in the exhibition.

Henrik Kolenberg, Australian watercolours 1880s to 1990s, 'Introduction: Painting in watercolour', pg. 8-16, Sydney, 1995, 13.

Hal Missingham (Editor), Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, Sydney, Oct 1963, 165 (illus.).

NSW Academy of Art, Fourth Annual Report of the New South Wales Academy of Art 1874-75, Sydney, 1875, not paginated. listed in Appendix under 'Water-Colours', Society's Gold Medal, No. 87. - Conrad Martens, artist, NSW.

NSW Academy of Art, Fourth Annual Exhibition of Works of Colonial Art 1875, Sydney, 1875, 8. 87; titled 'View on the Apsley Ranges, New England', painted by Conrad Martens, 'Painted for Trustees of proposed "Gallery of Art", Sydney'.

Barry Pearce., Hemisphere, 'Conrad Martens, the traveller who stayed', Sydney, May 1982-Jun 1982, 4 (colour illus.).

Barry Pearce, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian', pg. 13-35, Sydney, 1988, 13.

Barry Pearce, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Introduction', pg. 10-16, Sydney, 2000, 12, 18, 27 (colour illus.), 301.

Daniel Thomas AM, Australian art in the 1870s, 'Introduction', pg.4-6, Sydney, 1976, 21. 63; titled 'View on the Apsley Ranges, New England'

Daniel Thomas, Art and Australia, 'Australian collection', pg. 52-62, Sydney, Jul 1972, 53, 54 (colour illus.).