Street scene, Alexandria
20 Aug 1871 - 23 Jan 1955
Sydney Long is one of the quintessential Australian painters of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, best known for his Symbolist works, including 'Pan' and 'Fantasy', major highlights of the Gallery’s Australian art collection. Born in Goulburn in 1871, Long trained in decorative design before moving to Sydney in the early 1890s. He absorbed the lessons of naturalism and plein-air painting at the Art Society of New South Wales School, studying under AJ Daplyn and Julian Ashton, and began exhibiting works in 1894.
Travelling to London in 1910, Long studied printmaking at the Central School of Arts and Crafts. Serving to publicise his work in Australia and England, and also provide an additional source of income, Long produced etchings based on earlier paintings. In London, he exhibited intermittently at the Royal Academy and was elected an associate of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers in 1920. The following year he visited Australia and joined the Australian Painter-Etchers’ Society, becoming president in 1925 when he returned to Sydney.
An artist who is remembered for his imaginative renditions of the Australian landscape, Long created his most inspiring late work from the influence and experience of other cultures, including 'Street scene, Alexandria'. The painting was based on a sketch Long made in Egypt during a stopover on a voyage between Australia and Europe in 1922. 'Street scene, Alexandria', was shown in the Royal Art Society of NSW exhibition in July 1925, where a critic praised its ‘sharp contrasts in sunlight and shadow, and its excellent group of figures at the street corner’. With this fusion of vivid light, shadow, saturated colour and scrutinizing figure, the painting is distinct in Long’s late painting practice and evocative of his sensory experiences of the city.
The pleasing composition is anchored by a group of seated men in shadow and a boy dressed in a white caftan standing in the bright sun, staring directly at the viewer. Reflecting a stilled moment of the busy city, there is an air of spontaneity in the work, the foreground and building on the right are roughly sketched with paint while the vibrant blue sky contrasts with the terracotta building on the right.
oil on canvas
60.0 x 50.0 cm
Signature & date
Signed and dated l.l. 'Sid Long 1925'. Signed l.r. 'SID. LONG'.
Gift of Toni Larkings in memory of Peter Larkings 2020
Not on display
© Estate of Sydney Long. Courtesy Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia
Shown in 5 exhibitions
The Australian Painter Etcher's Society exhibition, Education Department Gallery [Bridge Street], Sydney, 07 Jul 1925–Unknown
Spring exhibition, SA Society of Arts, 08 Oct 1925–24 Oct 1925
Sydney Long (1926), Australian Fine Art Gallery, Sydney, Oct 1926 -
Paintings by Sydney Long, Sedon Galleries, Melbourne, 13 Oct 1931–Unknown
Sydney Long, A.R.E.: loan exhibition, National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 09 Apr 1941–31 May 1941
Referenced in 4 publications
Sydney Long', The Argus, 'Paintings, Melbourne, 13 Oct 1931, 9.
The Register, 'Big spring exhibition: Many fine works', Adelaide, 08 Oct 1925, 4.
Sydney Morning Herald, 'Painter etchers exhibition opened: Notable British section', Sydney, 07 Jul 1925, 14.
The Australasian, 'Mr Sydney Long's work', Melbourne, 23 Oct 1926, 48.