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


Grand Arch, looking east



John Paine

England, Australia

1834 – 1915

  • Details

    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

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    John Paine

    Works in the collection


  • About

    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

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 3 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 4 publications

Other works by John Paine