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Australian art

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Idyll: love and life

marble 1926
plaster 1923


Rayner Hoff

United Kingdom, Australia

1894 - 1937


A relatively short Australian tenure - from 1923 to his death following a surfing accident in 1937 - did not prevent Rayner Hoff transforming the face of Australian sculpture. No active practitioner of the period is more associated with art deco, for example, or with the redirection of monumental statuary in Sydney towards an expressively inflected classicism. Hoff's sculpture is robustly erotic, but never prurient, embodying a paganism which is different in quality and kind from the coarser work of Norman Lindsay. Idyll: love and life might be described as chaste, despite the languor of its poses. Hoff taught drawing and sculpture at East Sydney Technical College, whose students revered and imitated him. Although met at the time with public outrage, Sydney's official Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park remains his enduring testament.

Art Gallery Handbook 1999



marble 1926
plaster 1923

Media category


Materials used



106.7 x 52.0 x 13.0 cm :

a - marble, 106.7 x 52 x 13 cm

b - tabernacle, 135 x 68 x 23.5 cm

Signature & date

Signed l.r. corner, incised "G.RAYNER HOFF". Not dated.


Gift of Howard Hinton 1926


Not on display

Accession number


Wynne Prize

- 1926

Artist information

Rayner Hoff

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 3 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 9 publications


Deborah Edwards, Art and Australia (Vol. 24, No. 1), '"This vital flesh": the 1920s sculpture of Rayner Hoff', pg. 62-68, Sydney, Spring 1986, 63 (illus.).

Deborah Edwards, Aspects of Art Deco in Australia: Sunrise over the Pacific, 'The new classicism: Rayner Hoff and his school', pg. 36-45, Sydney, 2001, 41.

Deborah Edwards, Look, 'This vital flesh in three dimensions', pg. 14, Melbourne, Dec 1999-Jan 2000, 12 (colour illus.).

Deborah Edwards, 'This vital flesh': the sculpture of Rayner Hoff and his school, 'Australia, the new Greece: the body as nation', pg. 31-51, Sydney, 1999, cover (colour illus., detail), 30 (colour illus.), 34-35, 38-39, 47, 101. 267

Deborah Edwards, Stampede of the Lower Gods: Classical Mythology in Australian Art, 'The New Greece / 'Delos of a coming Sun-god's race'', pg. 31-54, Sydney, Sep 1989, 36 (illus.), 40, 65.

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 134 (colour illus.).

Enid N MacDonald, The Sydney morning herald, 'Rayner Hoff: examples of his work; fine gallery collection', pg. 13, Sydney, 17 Jun 1939, 13.

Barry Pearce, Parallel visions: works from the Australian collection, 'Introduction: Convergent Spirits', pg. 10-19, Sydney, 2002, 15, 63 (colour illus.), 66, 144, 147.

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Sydney, 1972, 101 (colour illus.).