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Australian art

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Rat's castle, Hobart

circa 1919


Blamire Young


1862 - 1935


'Rat's castle' is one of the best-known watercolours in the Gallery's collection. The building stood on the corner of Elizabeth and Brisbane Streets, Hobart between 1820 and 1880 before it was demolished, well before Blamire Young's first visit to Tasmania in 1911-12, so it's probable inspiration was a photograph. It had served variously as a police office, place of worship and a school for young ladies, before eventually becoming a refuge for derelicts, when it earned the moniker 'Rat's castle'. The building's colourful history obviously appealed to Young's romantic imagination, and the watercolour is a portrait of a building as individual as any human portrait.

© Australian Art Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2000


Other Title

Rat's Castle, Hobart


circa 1919

Media category


Materials used



46.7 x 59.2 cm sight; 67.0 x 78.0 x 4.0 cm frame

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Purchased 1923


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Blamire Young

Works in the collection


Shown in 14 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 15 publications


Jean Campbell, Australian watercolour painters: 1780 to the present day, 'The twentieth century to 1914', pg. 92-109, Sydney, 1989, 95 (colour illus.).

Elly Fink, The art of Blamire Young, Sydney, 1983, 49 (colour illus.). plate no. 28

Gavin Fry, Parallel visions: works from the Australian collection, 'J.J. Hilder / Blamire Young / Norman Lindsay', pg. 72-87, Sydney, 2002, 75, 79 (colour illus.), 146, 147.

Colin Holden (Curator), In search of the picturesque– the achitectural ruin in art, Geelong, 2012, n.pag.. 71

Hendrik Kolenberg, Twentieth century Australian watercolours from the collection, Sydney, 1989, cover (colour illus.). 83

Hendrik Kolenberg, Australian watercolours 1880s to 1990s, 'Introduction: Painting in watercolour', pg. 8-16, Sydney, 1995, 12, 37 (colour illus.), 117. 25

Hendrik Kolenberg., Look, 'The art of Australian watercolour', Heidelberg, Apr 1989, 20 (colour illus.).

Lionel Lindsay., Art in Australia [series 3, no. 70], 'Exhibition of 150 years of Australian Art', Sydney, Mar 1938, 45 (illus.).

Lionel Lindsay, 150 years of Australian art, Sydney, 1938. 362 [Gallery No. 4]

Elwyn Lynn, The Australian landscape and its artists, Rushcutters Bay, 1977, 55 (colour illus.).

Ewen McDonald, AGNSW Collections, 'From Colonialism to late Modernism', pg. 7-106, Sydney, 1994, 28, 29 (colour illus.).

William Moore, The story of Australian art from the earliest known art of the continent to the art of today (Vol. 1), 'Galleries', pg. 179-214, Sydney, 1934, illus..

Ursula Prunster and Edmund Capon AM, OBE, J.J. Hilder and contemporaries, Sydney, 1981, illus.. 39

Trustees of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australian watercolours from the National Art Gallery collection 1836 to 1946, Sydney, 1946, 10. 25

Sydney Ure Smith (Editor), Art of Australia 1788-1941, New York, 1941, 33, (illus.). 40