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


Eternal youth



Jenny Watson


1951 –

Alternate image of Eternal youth by Jenny Watson
Alternate image of Eternal youth by Jenny Watson
  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Melbourne Victoria Australia
    Media categories
    Painting , Mixed media painting
    Materials used
    oil on velvet, horse hair and ribbon, synthetic polymer paint on canvas
    dimensions variable :

    a - right panel, 152 x 76 x 9 cm, stretcher

    b - left panel, 50.5 x 40.5 cm, stretcher

    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program by an anonymous donor 2013
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Jenny Watson

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Jenny Watson

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Comprising two parts: a larger figurative painting with a horse hair tail hanging in front, next to a smaller text, 'Eternal youth' combines a sense of adventure with the reality that artworks are for sale and that being purchased by a museum is highly desirable, for an artist's self esteem and their career. Painted in 1992, the work was exhibited with a larger suite of paintings the following year, when the artist was chosen to represent Australia at the 1993 Venice Biennale.

    Reflecting the hype, gossip and speculation that usually follow these major art events, Jenny Watson's paintings reminds us that when times-or in this case an artist's life-reaches a 'high point' there is still the chance that things may fall through. The figure with the guitar case and the title 'Eternal youth' seems to suggest the desirability of being young and also perhaps the unsettled life an artist leads. Drawing an analogy between the artist's life with all its career vagaries or even that of an iterant busker, the figure seems ready to perform for their supper.

    The text on the panel is both ironic and predictive, an affirmative statement embodying the desire of the artist for a museum to purchase the work and in conjunction with the figure the suggestion that the thought this work will make it could just be blind optimism. The horse's tail stands in for the figures hair and also recalls Watson's great love of horses and identification with them, a recurring motif in her work.

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 4 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 4 publications

Other works by Jenny Watson

See all 32 works