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Australian art

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Syncromy in orange major



Roland Wakelin


1887 - 1971


What convinced the cautious Wakelin to embark on an interlude of avant-gardism around 1919 can only be surmised. In that year, with Roy de Maistre, he showed 'colour harmonies' - tiny chromatic experiments without precedent in Australian painting. Older by a few years than his co-exhibitor, Wakelin was feasibly fired by a spirit of competition and camaraderie. 'Syncromy in orange major' is a landscape, but one in which the structural underpinnings of place have been extracted, stripped, and presented for pure aesthetic consideration, not for descriptive purposes. A rare handful of related studies survive, Wakelin having revoked the enterprise in 1920.


Other Titles

Synchromy in orange major

Syncromy in orange red



Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas on hardboard


31.0 x 41.2 cm board; 40.5 x 47.6 x 3.2 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.l. corner, black ink "R.S.Wakelin 1919".


Bequest of Mervyn Horton 1983

Accession number


Artist information

Roland Wakelin

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 9 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 29 publications


Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art from Australia: 2016 calender, Sydney, 2015, n.apg. (colour illus.). month of October

Candice Bruce, Brought to Light: Australian Art 1850–1965 from the Queensland Art Gallery collection, 'Painting a Symphony. Roland Wakelin The Bridge under construction', pg. 132-37, Brisbane, 1998, 135, 218.

Edmund Capon AM, OBE, I blame Duchamp: my life's adventures in art, 'John Bull and the Little Boy at Manly', pg. 321-333, Sydney, 2009, 329.

Joan Chambers and Sophia Watson, Art in the sun, 'Roland Wakelin 1887-1971', pg. 28, Brookvale, 2000, 28 (colour illus.).

Douglas Dundas, Roland Wakelin retrospective, 'Introduction', pg. 3-6, Sydney, 1967, 7. 15; Collection of Mr Mervyn Horton

Douglas Dundas, Art and Australia [series 5, vol. 4, no. 4], 'Roland Wakelin: the painter', pg. 278-282, Sydney, Mar 1967-May 1967, 286 (colour illus.). Collection Meryn Horton

Deborah Edwards, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Moderns', pg. 103-104, Sydney, 2000, 104, 106, 107 (colour illus.).

Deborah Edwards, Sydney moderns: art for a new world, 'Colour, light and rhythm: tools for modernity', pg. 21-33, Sydney, 2013, 27, 51 (colour illus.), 317.

Sasha Grishin, Australian art: a history, 'The shock of early modernism', pg. 206-217, Carlton, 2013, 208, 209 (colour illus.), 549, 570. plate no. 21.2

Lesley Harding, Cubism & Australian art, 'L'Esprit Nouveau 1913-1929', pg. 19-47, Melbourne, 2009, 23 (colour illus.),.

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 133 (colour illus.).

Heather Johnson, Parallel visions: works from the Australian collection, 'Roy de Maistre / Roland Wakelin', pg. 48-59, Sydney, 2002, 5 (colour illus., detail), 6, 48, 53, 146, 147.

Heather Johnson, Australian art collector, 'Private Pleasure, Public Gain - the influence of private collections', pg. 58-61, Ultimo, Apr 1998-Jun 1998, 59.

Elwyn Lynn (Editor), Art and Australia (Vol. 21, No. 1), 'The Mervyn Horton Collection', pg. 72, Sydney, Spring 1983, cover (colour illus.).

John MacDonald, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Men of colours: Australia's early abstract paintings are music to the eyes', pg. 16-17, Sydney, 13 Sep 2008-14 Sep 2008, 16, 17 (colour illus.).

Barry Pearce and Haruo Arikawa, Two hundred years of Australian painting: nature, people and art in the southern continent, Tokyo, 1992, 119 (colour illus.). 68

Barry Pearce, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian', pg. 13-35, Sydney, 1988, 21.

Annabel Pegus, Modern times: the untold story of modernism in Australia, '2 Colour in art', pg. 16-21, Sydney, 2008, 20 (colour illus.). NOTE: Caption states: 'This painting was shown at the 'Colour in Art' exhibition in 1919 as no. 4 Syncromy in Orange Red. It depicts Berry's Bay on Sydney Harbour.'

Annabel Pegus, Colour in art: Revisiting 1919, 'Roland Wakelin's colour music', pg. 16-18, Sydney, 2008, 8, 16, 39 (colour illus.).

Annabel Pegus, Look, 'Resonance of colour and music: a parallel vision that reached out to another generation', pg. 12-13, Sydney, May 2002, 12.

Laura Pia, Look, 'Colour music: Composing paintings with colours as notes', pg. 34-37, Sydney, Jul 2008, 35 (colour illus.).

Ursula Prunster, Aspects of Australian art, Sydney, 2000, front cover of folder (colour illus., detail), front cover of card no. 4 (colour illus.). card no. 4: Roland Wakelin 'Synchromy in orange major' 1919

Stephen Scheding, A Small Unsigned Painting, Milsons Point, 1998, between pg. 164-165 (illus.).

Gayfield Shaw (Compilator), Colour in art, Sydney, 1919. 7; collection of Leonard Dodds, not for sale

Daniel Thomas, Creating Australia: 200 years of art 1788-1988, 'Twentieth-Century Art: Culture', pg.146, Melbourne, 1988, 150 (colour illus.), 247.

Daniel Thomas, Art and Australia (Vol. 21, No. 1), 'The Mervyn Horton collection', pg.72-83, Sydney, Spring 1983, 82, 83 (colour illus.).

Daniel Thomas, Symposium papers: Colour in art - revisiting 1919 & R-Balson, 'Keynote Address: Modern Australia: Colour in art 1910s-1950s', pg. 3-11, Sydney, 2008, front cover (colour illus., detail), 3, 5-6.

Leslie Walton, The art of Roland Wakelin, Sydney, 1987, 17, 45 (colour illus.), 125. plate no. 12

Tribute to Mervyn Horton, Sydney, 1983. List of works