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Australian art

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An Opera House in every home



Eric Thake


08 Jun 1904 - 03 Nov 1982


Eric Thake began sending personal linocut Christmas cards to friends in 1941 and continued the tradition for over thirty years. 'An Opera House in every home' was sent to Hal Missingham, a former Director of the Gallery, in 1972, the year before the Sydney Opera House was completed. Altogether, the Gallery has 39 prints by Thake in the collection, many of which were Christmas cards sent to Missingham.

Eric Thake was born at Auburn, Victoria. At the age of 14 he was apprenticed to Patterson Shugg, a firm of process engravers in Melbourne where he experimented with four or five engravings on stereotyping metal plates, reminiscent of the wood engravings of Lionel Lindsay. He worked in commercial art from 1926-70 while simultaneously pursuing his own work, including photography. He studied drawing at the National Gallery School, Melbourne 1922-23, painting and drawing at the George Bell Studio from 1925-28 and was a founding member of the Melbourne Contemporary Group in 1932.

The strong silhouettes in the woodcuts of Blamire Young (and through him the work of the Beggarstaff Brothers of London) were influences, as well as illustrations by Hary Weston, Dick Hartley and D H Souter. He stayed in touch with graphic art developments in Europe through magazines such as 'The Studio'. In 1929 at the instigation of George Bell, he made his first 'modern; print, 'Returned empty', which he exhibited with two other linocuts in 1930. He began sending personal Christmas cards printed with a linocut, to friends in 1941, until failing eyesight forced him to stop in 1975. This card was sent to Hal Missingham in 1972, Director of the AGNSW. The Sydney Opera House was opened in 1973. There are 39 Thake prints in the collection, the majority Christmas cards sent to Missingham and subsequently gifted by him to the Gallery.

Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2000




Media category


Materials used

linocut, printed in black ink on white cartridge paper folded as card


13.7 x 21.2 cm blockmark; 14.6 x 42.4 cm sheet; folded

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r., pencil "Eric Thake 1972". Signed verso on inside of card, pen and black ink ".../ Eric ...".


Gift of Hal Missingham 1973


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Eric Thake

Works in the collection


Shown in 6 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 11 publications


Jane de Teliga, Australian images: Prints, drawings and watercolours from the collection, Sydney, 1979, 10.

Nicolas Draffin, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Prints & Drawings', pg. 109-124, Sydney, 1988, 122 (illus.).

Peter Emmett, Sydney: metropolis, suburb, harbour, 'Suburb', pg. 71-72, Glebe, 2000, 79 (illus.).

Kirsty Grant and Jason Smith, In relief: Australian wood engravings, woodcuts and linocuts, Melbourne, 1997, 54 (colour illus.). Collection of the National Gallery of Victoria

Hendrik Kolenberg, Look, 'Australian Prints from the Collection 139 of the best', pg. 26-27, Heidelberg, Nov 1998, 26-27.

Hendrik Kolenberg and Anne Ryan, Australian prints from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 1998, 84 (illus.). 70

Hendrik Kolenberg, Everyday life: prints drawings and watercolours from the collections of Australian and European art, Sydney, 1994. 81

Susan McCulloch, Alan McCulloch and Emily McCulloch Childs, The new McCulloch's encyclopedia of Australian art, Carlton, 2006, 944 (illus.). NOTE: this is not the AGNSW impression.

David Thomas, Landscapes of the Mornington Peninsula, "Eric Thake Bathing Boxes, Flinders 1930', pg. 10-13, Mornington, 1999, 11.

Kay Vernon, Harbour hymns, city songs: visions of Sydney from the collection, Sydney, 1990. 55

Editor Unknown (Editor), Calendar - Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Jul 1998-Dec 1998, (illus.).