Skip to content

Update from the Gallery regarding COVID-19

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is open. We are observing strict physical distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Read the latest visit information




Australian art


View More:


Grand Arch, looking east



John Paine

England, Australia

1834 - 1915


John Paine’s photograph of the Grand Arch at Jenolan Caves in New South Wales represents a conjuncture of two important representational modes, both of which helped shape 19th-century art: the picturesque and the sublime. The caves, first discovered in 1838, saw a massive increase in tourism as the result of rail improvements. Picturesque postcard views, sold as tourist mementos, were produced to service this market. Paine’s photograph, however, is clearly more than this. The vast cave and the small figure bathed in light on the rocky outcrop evoke the tradition of the sublime, the central motifs of which were the colossal and the powerful, often represented by mountains or storms. The subject of the artwork – and indeed the viewer – was not to be instructed or pleased, but overcome and transformed. While key elements of this aesthetic are present here, Paine’s ‘Grand Arch, looking east’ still illustrates a landscape tamed and one in which social order is subtly replicated: gentlemen at the top, tradesmen in the middle and women-folk at the bottom.

© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007




Media category


Materials used

albumen photograph


14.8 x 20.1 cm image/sheet

Signature & date

Signed l.l. image, [inscribed on glass plate negative] "J.P.". Not dated.


Purchased 1989


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

John Paine

Works in the collection


Shown in 3 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 4 publications


Robyn Donohue, Look, 'Arcadia: Nineteenth Century Australian Photography', pg. 22-23, Heidelberg, Oct 1998, 23 (illus.).

Robyn Donohue, Arcadia - nineteenth century Australian photography, Sydney, 1998. no catalogue numbers

Josef Lebovic Gallery and Helen Ennis, Masterpieces of Australian Photography, Sydney, 1989, 110, 111 (illus.). 195

Steven Miller, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'In every house, and in every tent', pg.33-51, Sydney, 2007, 46 (illus.).