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Australian art

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Aboriginal family group

(circa 1886)


Julian Ashton

England, Australia

27 Jan 1851 - 27 Apr 1942


Julian Ashton was born in England and studied at the Royal Academy School, London, and at the Académie Julian, Paris, before coming to Australia in 1878 to work for the 'Illustrated Australian News' and 'Australasian Sketcher' in Melbourne. He moved to Sydney in 1883 to work on 'The picturesque atlas of Australasia'. Ashton was a major influence on the appreciation and teaching of art in Sydney, establishing his own art school, which still operates today. He was President of the Art Society of NSW and a trustee of the AGNSW.

According to his autobiography, 'Now came still evening on' (1941) pg 53 Ashton visited an Aboriginal camp some miles out of Kiama on the south coast of NSW, where he remembered seeing "a fine looking native and his two lubras… They lived in a little construction something like an Indian wigwam. They had two children – a boy of about six years and the other just out of babyhood. I persuaded the father to allow me to make a drawing of them. He stood with his hand out and holding the younger child in his arms."


Other Titles

Gib it bacca Boss

Give blackfellow tobacco boss!

Place where the work was made

Kiama New South Wales Australia


(circa 1886)

Media category


Materials used

pencil, watercolour, white gouache


38.0 x 25.3 cm sheet

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r., "J.R. Ashton 188 (illeg.)".


Purchased 1888


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Julian Ashton

Works in the collection


Shown in 7 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 14 publications


Geoffrey Dutton, The Art Gallery of South Australia Festival Exhibitions 1974, 'The Australian Aboriginal portrayed in art', pg. 34-41, Adelaide, 1974, 40. 53; titled 'Gib it bacca Boss'

Nineteenth century Australian watercolours from the collection, Sydney, 1991. 2

Julian Ashton 1851-1942, Sydney, 1982, 13. 20

Australian images: Prints, drawings and watercolours from the collection, Sydney, 1979, 1.

Now came still evening on, Sydney, 1941, 53-54, opp. 126 (illus.). titled 'Gib it bacca Boss'

Catalogue of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1899, Sydney, 1899. 479 Water Colours- Australian

Exhibition of Australian art in London, London, 1898. 129

Catalogue of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1893, Sydney, 1893, 110 (illus.). 402, Australian Court

Catalogue of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1891, Sydney, 1891, 69 (illus.). 257, Australian Court

Catalogue of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1888, Sydney, 1888, 78 (illus.). 104, Watercolours, titled 'Gib it bacca Boss'

Australian Artists Association Inaugural Exhibition, 1886, (illus.). titled 'Give blackfellow tobacco boss'.

Argus, 'Exhibition of the Australian Artists' Assocation', page 7, Melbourne, 07 Sep 1886, 7. titled 'Give Blackfellow Terbacker, Boss'

Everyday life: prints drawings and watercolours from the collections of Australian and European art, Sydney, 1994.

The Adelaide Festival of Arts 1974: Special exhibitions at the Art Gallery of South Australia, The Australian Aborigine Portrayed in Art, p35-41, Adelaide, 1974. cat. no. 53; titled 'Gib it bacca Boss'