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Australian art

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(Portrait of a boy)

circa 1916


Tempe Manning


1896 - 1960


Tempe Manning was one of a number of artists whose works and views had larger influence on the directions of modern Sydney art during the interwar period than has thus far been widely recognised. She was one of a number of talented artists who studied under Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo at his atelier in Sydney from the mid 1910s. Along with her more celebrated peers, including Grace Cossington Smith, Roland Wakelin, Norah Simpson and Roy De Maistre, her work contributed to the first significant phase of modernist culture in this country.

Manning travelled to Europe and studied in Paris in 1912 prior to joining Dattilo-Rubbo's atelier on her return in 1914. While her training in Paris followed academic traditions, Manning's extant Sydney works demonstrate how she had moved away from academism to experimentation in colour painting by 1916. The same year, a reviewer of the Royal Art Society exhibition noted her work and claimed that Manning had "joined the pointillists ….and the results are certainly amazing".

With its palette of intensified, high-keyed colour, flattened backdrop and divisionist brushwork, '(Portrait of boy)' is indicative of the experimental paintings Manning was producing by the late 1910s. The work's speckled, opalescent palette is suggestive of the idiosyncratic approach to Manning's investigations into modern colour relations, through which she offered a distinct inflection to the colour practices propelling the artistic transformation of Sydney's early modernist milieu.


Other Title

Young man


circa 1916

Media category


Materials used

oil on hardboard


30.5 x 22.5 cm sight; 43.0 x 35.5 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed l.r., brown oil "TEMPE MANNING.". Not dated.


D G Wilson Bequest Fund 2013


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Tempe Manning

Works in the collection


Shown in 3 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 5 publications


Christie's, Australia Pty. Ltd. (Compilator), Australian, International and Contemporary Paintings, South Yarra, Aug 2004, 163 (colour illus.). caption (lot no. 219) and image (lot no. 218) incorrectly matched

Jasmin Dessmann and Deborah Edwards, Sydney moderns: art for a new world, 'The lost moderns: Tempe Manning, Niel A Gren and Norah Simpson', pg. 38-41, Sydney, 2013, 38, 39 (colour illus.), 314.

Deutscher-Menzies Fine Art (Compilator), Australian and international fine art, Melbourne, Nov 2002, 158 (colour illus.). lot no. 239; estimated price $2,000-3,000

Lesley Harding, Art and Australia (Vol. 36, No. 4), 'Tempe Manning: the lost modernist', pg. 532-537, Sydney, 1999, 536 (illus.).

Denise Mimmocchi, Look, 'New to the collection: building up our holding of Sydney moderns', pg. 15-17, Sydney, Dec 2014-Jan 2015, 17 (colour illus.).