In the early twentieth century, John Samuel Watkins established a considerable presence in Sydney's art world as an exhibiting artist, influential teacher and Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation council member and later Trustee (between1932-42).
Mainly renowned as an academic portrait and figure painter, 'The market gardener' suggests a greater versatility to his work. The small panel format of the painting and the considerable enhancement of the work by its ornately crafted frame may suggest Watkins' attention to the work of the '9x5' Australian impressionist painters. It is perhaps through such influences that Watkins extended his tonal palette to evoke the brightened ambience of the landscape.
With its lavishly hand-crafted frame of Chinese-inspired motifs, the work is testament to the enduring impact of the Aesthetic movement, and the associated appreciation of 'exotic' ornament and design in Sydney at the turn of the century.
The Market Gardener
oil on wood panel, carved frame
35.9 x 24.0 cm board; 53.9 x 37.8 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed l.r. corner, red/brown oil "J.S. Watkins [underlined]". Not dated.
Gift of Barry Leithhead 2013
Not on display
Shown in 1 exhibition
Twenty-second Annual Exhibition of the Royal Art Society of New South Wales (1901), Vickery's Galleries, Sydney, Sep 1901–Unknown
Referenced in 1 publication
Royal Art Society twenty-second annual exhibition (1901), 'Catalogue', pg. 3-27, Sydney, 1901, 9. cat.no. 69; priced £3.3.0