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.
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
Shown in 4 exhibitions
Colonial Post Colonial, Museum of Modern Art at Heide, Melbourne, 25 May 1996–11 Aug 1996
State of the Waratah, S.H. Ervin Gallery, The Rocks, 01 Sep 2000–08 Oct 2000
Visions of Federation, Powerhouse Museum, Ultimo, 03 Apr 2001–14 Oct 2001
Visions of a republic: the work of Lucien Henry, Powerhouse Museum, Ultimo, Apr 2001 -
Referenced in 7 publications
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.).
Anna Elias, Art and Australia (vol. 32, no. 1), 'Useless Beauty', pg. 66-72, Sydney, Spring 1994, 67 (colour illus.).
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.).
Look, 'Members events: February 2012', pg. 40-41, Sydney, Feb 2012, 40 (colour illus.).