Skip to content

Update from the Gallery regarding COVID-19

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is open. We are observing strict physical distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Read the latest visit information




Australian art

View More:


Shopping day



Russell Drysdale

England, Australia

07 Feb 1912 - 29 Jun 1981


One of many paintings of Aboriginal people arising from Russell Drysdale's extended journeys throughout northern and western Australia, 'Shopping day' ranks among his most powerfully emotive portrayals of the human condition, and reveals his emphatically humanist approach to his subject.

Drysdale's portrayal is based on his memories of Aboriginal groups he had observed coming into the country towns of far north Queensland, from outlying settlement camps. It conveys, with great sensitivity and eloquence, the dispossession of Indigenous people during the early 1950s when they were obliged to integrate into white society.




Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


59.7 x 75.0 cm stretcher; 70.5 x 86.0 x 6.3 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed l.r. corner, red oil "Russell Drysdale". Signed u.r. corner verso, red/brown oil "Russell Drysdale/ ...". Not dated.


Purchased with funds provided by MEPC Australia Ltd 1988

Accession number


Artist information

Russell Drysdale

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 10 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 25 publications


Paula Dredge, Margaret Sawicki, Steven Miller and Lindsay Parker, S.A. Parker Framing Works, 'Works in the collection with known Parker frames', pg. 27-68, Sydney, 2004, 65 (illus.).

Geoffrey Dutton, Russell Drysdale, 'Russell Drysdale - the man and his work', pg. 7-84, London, 1964, 50, 152 (illus.), 189. plate no. 82

Lou Klepac, Russell Drysdale: paintings 1940-72, Sydney, 1985, 10, 11 (colour illus.). 36

Edwards and Shaw (Printer), Russell Drysdale: retrospective exhibition 1937 - 1960, Sydney, 1960. 80

James Gleeson, Sun, 'Exciting oils by Drysdale', pg. 36, Sydney, 18 Nov 1953, 36.

Sasha Grishin, Australian art: a history, 'Fashionable modernism in Sydney', pg. 310-321, Carlton, 2013, 310 (colour illus., detail), 320, 321 (colour illus.), 550, 559. plate no. 31.7

Paul Haefliger, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Exhibition by Russell Drysdale', pg. 2, Sydney, 18 Nov 1953, 2.

Stuart Hill and Martin Mulligan, Ecological pioneers: a social history of Australian ecological thought and action, 'Seeing the land in a new light: people and landscapes in Australian art', pg. 34-71, Cambridge, 2001, 68.

Robert Hughes, London magazine, 'Russell Drysdale', pg. 66, London, Dec 1964, 66 (illus.).

Lou Klepac, The life and work of Russell Drysdale, 'Black oil', pg. 131-142, Kensington, 1983, 138, 309 (colour illus.), 368. plate no. 127

Catherine De Lorenzo, A changing relationship: aboriginal themes in Australian art, c.1938-1988, 'Be Aboriginal', pg. 5-25, Sydney, 1988, 8 (illus.), 9, 41. 19

John McDonald, Federation: Australian art and society 1901-2001, 'Inhabitants of the land', pg. 47, Canberra, 2000, 47, 48 (colour illus.), 253.

Janet Morse, Look, 'A new conception of the land', pg. 28-29, Melbourne, Oct 2000, 28 (colour illus.), 29.

Graham Parker and Kim O'Loughlin, Russell Drysdale 1912-81: Education guide, Victoria, 1998, (colour illus.).

Barry Pearce, The Weekend Australian, 'Time makes its judgment', pg. 2-3, Sydney, 12 Aug 2000-13 Aug 2000, 3 (colour illus.). This colour supplement is a 'Review Special' published for the 'Weekend Australian'. It consists of a four-page, colour wrap-around for the 'Weekend Australian Review'. 'The Australian' was the media sponsor for the AGNSW Exhibition 'Australian Icons', for the Olympic Arts Festival 2000.

Barry Pearce and Haruo Arikawa, Two hundred years of Australian painting: nature, people and art in the southern continent, Tokyo, 1992, 145 (colour illus.). 88

Julie Roberts, Art and Australia (Vol. 37, No. 2), 'Seeing the light', pg. 222-230, Sydney, Dec 1999-Feb 2000, 230, 231 (colour illus.).

John Saxby, Look, 'A window opens on new stories about building the collection', pg. 26-28, Sydney, May 2015, 28.

Geoffrey Smith, Russell Drysdale 1912-1981, Melbourne, 1997, 11, 142, 143 (colour illus.). 55

Graeme Sturgeon, The painter's vision, 'The way of life', pg. 161-199, Sydney, (1987), 183, 184 (colour illus.), 203. plate no. 118

Wendy Symonds (Editor), Look, Heidelberg, Apr 1998, cover (colour illus.), 3, 15.

Daniel Thomas AM and Paul Haefliger, Russell Drysdale; a retrospective exhibition of paintings from 1937 to 1960, Sydney, 1960, 44 (illus.), 59. plate no. 28; 80

Judith White, Look, 'Russell Drysdale speaks: his thoughts from 55 years ago', pg. 34-36, Sydney, Jul 2014, 36 (colour illus.).

Gavin Wilson, Beneath the Monsoon: visions north of Capricorn, 'Beneath the Monsoon: visions north of Capricorn', pg. 7-38, Mackay, 2003, 11, 13 (colour illus.), 70.

author unknown, Nation, 'Outback into art', pg. 15, Sydney, 22 Oct 1960, 14, 15 (illus.).