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Australian art

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Lucien Henry

France, Australia

1850 - 1896


This Beaux-Arts graduate and Paris Communard was exiled from France to New Caledonia, settling in Sydney after his reprieve in 1879. As both teacher and practising designer, Lucien Henry made a vital contribution to the Sydney art scene during two of its most active and experimental decades.

Fascinated by the pictorial possibilities of native flora and fauna – especially the waratah, the floral emblem of New South Wales – Henry produced superlative designs for stained glass, interior décor, architecture and items of applied art. He also created this striking, highly-detailed painting, 'Waratah', with its scarlet bloom set against an intricate turquoise-and-gold geometric Islamic-style pattern. It was exhibited in 1887 at the Eighth Annual Exhibition of the Art Society of NSW.




Media category


Materials used

oil on wood


51.0 x 35.0 cm board; 68.3 x 52.4 x 4.5 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r., pencil "L. Henry 87".


Gift of Marcel Aurousseau 1983

Accession number


Artist information

Lucien Henry

Works in the collection


Shown in 4 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 8 publications


Ann Elias, Sydney College of the Arts, Useless beauty: Flowers and Australian art, United Kingdom, 2015, 100, 237, plate 35 (colour illus.).

Margaret Betteridge, State of the waratah: the floral emblem of New South Wales in legend, art and industry, 'A national style', pg. 18-19, Sydney, 2000, 18, 19 (colour illus.).

Penelope Curtin and Tansy Curtin, Blooms and brushstrokes: a floral history of Australian art, 'Flowers A-Z: Waratah', pg. 182-183, Mile End, 182, 183 (colour illus.), 196.

Anna Elias, Art and Australia (vol. 32, no. 1), 'Useless Beauty', pg. 66-72, Sydney, Spring 1994, 67 (colour illus.).

Juliana Engberg, Colonial Post Colonial, Victoria, 1996, 67.

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 109 (colour illus.).

Ann Stephen and Charles Pickett, Visions of a Republic: the work of Lucien Henry, 'The makings of an Australian art', pg. 66-69, Haymarket, 2001, 66, 67 (colour illus.).

Jill Sykes (Editor), Look, 'Members events: February 2012', pg. 40-41, Sydney, Feb 2012, 40 (colour illus.).