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


The miraculous draught of fishes



John Passmore


04 Feb 1904 – 09 Oct 1984

  • Details

    Media category
    Materials used
    oil on hardboard
    122.0 x 183.0 cm
    Signature & date

    Signed l.r. corner, yellow oil "John Passmore". Not dated.

    Gift of Joseph Brown 1989
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © John Passmore Museum of Art

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    Artist information
    John Passmore

    Works in the collection


  • About

    In preparation for his retrospective, which opened only months after his death in 1984, Passmore allowed the Gallery access to hundreds of his drawings, fragments and notes, on one of which was scrawled the words:
    "Where is the great masterpiece? There is no masterpiece, no answer, it is all in the search."

    'The miraculous draught of fishes' is considered by many to be Passmore's most ambitious painting. It was certainly one of the largest pieces he painted following his return to Australia in 1951 after a long period in England and he entered it in the Blake Prize in 1952. The painting had its genesis in a small pen and ink sketch.

    James Gleeson, writing in 1971, said:
    "Paintings like 'The miraculous draught of fishes' are heavily charged with emotions that have been heightened for transmission to us through the medium of line and colour. They are compositions of extraordinary vitality and originality, though the dazzle of their virtuosity never blinds one to the disturbing, though elusive, undercurrents just below the surface of the forms."

    Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2000

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 2 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 4 publications

Other works by John Passmore

See all 36 works