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Australian art

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Sunday evening



Russell Drysdale

England, Australia

07 Feb 1912 - 29 Jun 1981


Painted shortly after Russell Drysdale settled in Sydney, 'Sunday evening' is one of his earliest works depicting outback themes. It reveals the emergence of a style and approach to subject matter that signalled a radical break from his
previous experiments as a student. Exemplifying Drysdale’s skill as a draughtsman, the painting also confirms the importance of the figure in his work throughout his career.

Inspired by the empathy he felt for country people during the Depression, Drysdale depicted what he saw as the uniquely Australian qualities of life on the land. His approach in Sunday evening is influenced by fellow Australian artist Peter Purves Smith, by surrealism, and by the School of Paris artists Modigliani and Soutine. Drawing on these influences, Drysdale evolved his own distinctive vision of human existence on an ancient continent.


Other Title

Sunday Afternoon



Media category


Materials used

oil on asbestos cement sheet


60.0 x 76.0 cm board; 75.3 x 92.0 x 6.0 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed l.r. corner, black oil "Russell Drysdale". Not dated.


Purchased 1942


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Russell Drysdale

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 11 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 50 publications


Helen Campbell, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Out of Sydney: city and hinterlands', pg. 185-186, Sydney, 2000, 186, 198 (colour illus.), 199 (colour illus., detail), 300.

Helen Campbell, Australian Collection Focus: Russell Drysdale Sunday evening 1941, 'Russell Drysdale Sunday evening 1941: towards an Australian archetype', pg. 2-5, Sydney, 2001, front cover (colour illus., detail), 2, 3 (colour illus.), 4-7, 8 (colour illus., detail).

Helen Campbell, Look, 'Drysdale in focus', pg. 22-23, Melbourne, Jul 2001, front cover (colour illus.), 22 (colour illus.), 23.

Helen Campbell, Look, 'Russell Drysdale 1912-1981', pg. 14-15, Heidelberg, Apr 1998, 14 (colour illus.).

Gary Catalano., Quadrant, 'The figure of Russell Drysdale', Sydney, Apr 1982, 23, 27.

Our Art Critic., The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Pictures for Art Gallery', Sydney, 31 Mar 1942.

Christine Dixon., Art Network, 'Drysdale and reputation', Sydney, Spring 1985, 15.

Russell Drysdale, The paintings of Russell Drysdale: reproducing fifteen plates in colour with an essay by Joseph Burke, 'List of works and owners, 1951', pg.47-52, Sydney, 1951, 49.

Deborah Edwards, Art Monthly Australia, 'Margaret Preston: reviewing the landscape', pg. 19-23, Canberra, Dec 2002-Feb 2003, 20.

F.W.L. Esch., Pix, 'Drysdale - his paintings come back', Sydney, 08 Oct 1960, 33, 34 (illus.).

James Gleeson, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Russell Drysdale', pg. 39-43, Sydney, Oct 1960, 40 (illus.), 41.

Richard Haese, Rebels and precursors : the revolutionary years of Australian art, 'Cultural Reconstruction; the rise of a new establishment', pg. 245-267, Ringwood, 1981, 260, 262 (colour illus.), 307.

Lou Klepac, The life and work of Russell Drysdale, 'The war years', pg. 49-58, Kensington, 1983, 47, 50, 62, 64, 213 (colour illus.), 365. plate no. 24

Lou Klepac, Russell Drysdale: the drawings, 'Russell Drysdale: The Rabbiters and Hill End', pg. 19-25, Sydney, 2012, 24.

Patrick McCaughey, Australian Art Review, 'Russell Drysdale 1912-1981', pg. 114-117, Rozelle, 1982, 116, 117 (illus.).

John McDonald, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'The past master', pg. 12, Sydney, 11 Apr 1998, 12 (illus.). Spectrum Arts

Hal Missingham, Currency, 'Russell Drysdale', pg. 16-17, Sydney, Oct 1960, 16, 17 (illus.).

Margaret Plant, Russell Drysdale, 'Drysdale: affinities and critics', pg. 19, Clayton, 1987, 19.

Bernard Smith, Place, taste and tradition: A study of Australian art since 1788, 'Realism in Australian contemporary art', pg. 229-257, Sydney, 1945, 237 (illus.), 233-240. plate no. 92. The title of this work in this publication is 'Sunday Afternoon'.

Bernard Smith, Australian painting 1788-1990, 'Rebirth 1939-50', pg. 226-288, South Melbourne, 1991, 226-288, 245 (illus.), 559. 140

Bernard Smith., Art Monthly Australia, 'Sir Russell Drysdale (1912-1981)', Canberra, Jun 1998, 27.

Jill Sykes, Look, 'Russell Drysdale refreshed', pg. 23, Sydney, Jul 2010, 23 (colour illus.). Book review of Lou Klepac's Russell Drysdale book.

Laurence Thomas., Contemporary Australian painters, 'Foreword', Ottawa, 1957. 28

Australian present day art, Sydney, 1943, 42 (illus.). The title of this work in this publication is 'Sunday Afternoon'.

The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, 11 Mar 1942, 7.

Art in Australia [series 4, no. 5], 'Two Australian painters', pg. 8, 63-64., Sydney, Mar 1942, 8, 63 (colour illus.), 64.

Contemporary Australian painting from the National Collection, Sydney, circa 1946, 11. 15

Bulletin, 'Sundry shows', Sydney, 25 Mar 1942, page unknown.

Pasture degredation and recovery in Australia's rangelands: learning from history, 'Degradation and recovery episodes in Australia's rangelands: An anthology', pg. 87-172, Queensland, 2004, 120 (colour illus.). plate 2.4

Art Gallery of New South Wales Annual Report 2002, 'Year in review', pg. 8-25, Sydney, 2002, 15.

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, 66-67.

Aspects of Australian art, Sydney, 2000, (colour illus.). card no. 7: Russell Drysdale 'Sunday evening' 1941

Seeking the Centre, Cambridge, 1998, 167-168.

Art in Australia: from Colonization to Postmodernism, London, 1997, 140, 142.

Russell Drysdale 1912-1981, Melbourne, 1997, 11, 38, 39 (colour illus.). 3

Australian Encyclopaedia Vol. 6, Sydney, 1996, 2335 (colour illus.).

The artists of Hill End, Sydney, 1995, 21-24.

Living in a new country: history, travelling and language, London, 1992, 67-68.

National life and landscape - Australian painting 1900-1940, Sydney, 1990, 189, 192-96.

Famous Australian art series: Russell Drysdale 1912-1981, Moorebank, 1989, 12, 13 (colour illus.).

Drawing in Australia: drawings, water-colours, pastels and collages from the 1770s to the 1980s, Melbourne, 1989, 181. refered to as 'Sunday afternoon'

Drysdale: photographer, Melbourne, 1987, 14 (illus.).

Place, taste and tradition: a study of Australian art since 1788, 'Realism in Australian contemporary art', pg. 239-267, South Melbourne, 1979, 247 (illus.). plate no. 92; titled 'Sunday Afternoon".

The art of Australia, Melbourne, 1970, 191-193.

Russell Drysdale, London, 1964, 21-26.

Australian Painting 1788-1960, South Melbourne, 1962, 240-244, 245 (illus.), 246-247.

Russell Drysdale; a retrospective exhibition of paintings from 1937 to 1960, Sydney, 1960, 54. 14

Russell Drysdale: retrospective exhibition 1937 - 1960, Sydney, 1960. 14

author unknown, Australian letters, 'Australian humour - a symposium', pg. 35, Adelaide, Nov 1957, 35 (illus.).

Present day art in Australia, Sydney, 1949, 14 (illus.). titled 'Sunday Afternoon'