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Australian art

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Departure of the Orient - Circular Quay



Charles Conder

England, Australia

24 Oct 1868 - 09 Feb 1909


Arriving in Australia as an adolescent in 1884, Charles Conder became one of the key founders of the Heidelberg school of Australian impressionism. He returned to Europe six years later to become a legendary figure of the fin de siècle, mixing with leading artists and writers including Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Oscar Wilde.

Exhibited in Sydney in 1888, 'Departure of the Orient – Circular Quay' was Conder’s impressive artistic debut. With its silvery-grey tonality, contrasted with touches of brilliant colour, the work reflects the influence of Whistler and the principles of Aesthetic painting. Conder’s interest in Japanese art – or Whistler-inspired Japonisme – with its large, empty spaces, is also paramount.

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Other Titles

Departure of S.S. "Orient" from Circular Quay, Sydney

Departure of the 'Orient'

The Departure of Orient Steamer

Departure of S.S. Orient

Departure of SS. Orient

Departure of S.S. "Orient" from Circular Quay, Sydney

Departure of the S.S. Orient

Departure of the s.s. Orient - Circular Quay

Departure of the 'Orient' - Circular Quay

Place where the work was made

Sydney New South Wales Australia



Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


45.1 x 50.1 cm stretcher; 67.0 x 72.0 x 7.8 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.l. corner, incised "CHAS CONDER/ SYDNEY/ 1888".
Signed and dated l.l. corner, red oil "CHAS CONDER/ SYDNEY/ 1888".


Purchased 1888


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Charles Conder

Artist profile

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 23 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 80 publications


Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Sydney, 1972, 80 (colour illus.). titled 'Departure of the s.s. Orient - Circular Quay'

Leigh Astbury, Sunlight and shadow: Australian impressionist painters 1880-1900, Rushcutters Bay, 1989, 24 (colour illus., detail), 37 (colour illus.), 223. plate no. 22; titled 'Departure of the Orient - Circular Quay'

Leigh Astbury, Meridian, 'Poetic impulses in Australian landscape painting: the Heidelberg school reconsidered', pg. 123 - 141., Bundoora, Oct 1985, 129.

Herbert Badham, A gallery of Australian art, 'Introduction', pg. v-vii., Sydney, 1954, xi, xv, (colour illus.). plate no. 14

Herbert Badham, A study of Australian art, Sydney, 1949, 2 (colour illus.), 53.

Christine Bates, Making art connections: Visual arts years 7 & 8, 'Lets make an artwork: Peeking into private worlds', pg. 38-39, North Ryde, 2010, 38 (colour illus.).

Okko Boer, Masters of the Heidelberg School, 'Charles Conder: the 'emigre' participant', pg. 45-57, Leichhardt, 1998, 48 (illus.), 49. plate no. 45; titled 'Departure of the S.S. Orient - Circular Quay'

Tim Bonyhady, Australia's impressionists, 'The sunny south', pg. 19-30, London, 2016, 20 ,74 (colour illus.), 113, 124, 126. 11

Maurice Brodzky (Editor), Table talk, Melbourne, 05 Oct 1888, 4.

Edmund Capon AM, OBE, Art Gallery of New South Wales: highlights from the collection, Sydney, 2008, 58 (colour illus.), 59.

Bonny Cassidy., Tertangala, 'Charles Conder: a retrospective 1868-1909', Wollongong, Aug 2003, (illus.). Exhibition review.

Jane Clark and Bridget Whitelaw, Golden summers: Heidelberg and beyond, Melbourne, 1985, 94 (colour illus.). titled 'Departure of the Orient - Circular Quay'

Betty Currie, Girolamo Pieri Nerli (1863-1926), Melbourne, 1976, 19, 24, 26, 27, 29, 33, (illus.).

Michael Dunn, Nerli: an Italian painter in the South Pacific, 'Nerli's paintings', pg. 18-54, Auckland, 2005, 25, 26 (illus.), 27. figure no. 12

Mary Eagle, Australian Impressionism, 'Friendly rivalry: paintings of waterside Sydney, 1888 and 1890', pg. 103-108, Melbourne, 2007, 321, 104, 106-108, 79, 113 (colour illus.), 107 (colour illus. detail). 6.3

Peter Entwisle, Nerli - An exhibition of paintings & drawings, 'G.P. Nerli: Influences in Australia', pg. 28-38, Dunedin, 1988, 21 (illus.), 28, 32, 34, 36.

Brian Finemore, Painting, 'Introduction', pg. 4-5, London, 1961, 4, 13 (illus.). This work is titled "Departure of the S.S. Orient".

Ann Galbally, Craft arts international, 'Charles Conder 1868-1909', pg. 81-83, Sydney, 2003, 83 (colour illus.).

Ann Galbally, Charles Conder: the last bohemian, 'A child of Empire', pg. 5-28, Melbourne, 2002, xi, 26-28, following 46 (colour illus.), 191. titled 'Departure of the Orient - Circular Quay'

George Galway, Fifty years of Australian art 1879-1929, New South Wales, 1929, 59 (illus.). titled 'The Departure of Orient Steamer'

Frank Gibson and Campbell Dodgson, Charles Conder: his life and work, London, 1914, 29, 108. titled 'Departure of SS. "Orient"'

James Gleeson, Masterpieces of Australian painting, Melbourne, 1969, 66, 67 (colour illus.). plate no. 18

Grafton Galleries, Exhibition of Australian art in London, London, 1898, 49. 311; titled 'Departure of the "Orient"'; lent by the Trustees of Sydney Gallery; NOTE: Artist is 'Chas. Conder'.

Anne Gray, Australia, 'Art nation: Australian landscape 1880-1920', pg. 146-183, London, 2013, 153, 160 (colour illus.). 99

Sasha Grishin, Australian art: a history, 'In search of an Australian identity', pg. 116-127, Carlton, 2013, 125, 126 (colour illus.), 127, 548, 558. plate no. 13.8

Sasha Grishin., The Canberra times, 'Spirit of brilliance', Ainslie, 22 Jun 2003. Exhibition review.

Kerry Heckenberg, Queensland Review (vol.15, no.1), 'JJ. Hilder and the Languages of Art', pg. 33-49, Queensland, 2008, 35.

Dr Ursula Hoff, Charles Conder - his Australian years, Melbourne, 1960, 7, 12-13, 17-18, 20, 25, 31 (colour illus.). plate no. 6; 10; titled 'Departure of the Steamship Orient' on pg. 25; titled 'Departure of the S.S. Orient' on pg. 31.

Dr Ursula Hoff, Charles Conder: 1868-1909, Sydney, 1966. 8; titled 'Departure of the steamship Orient'; not paginated; NOTE: in the introduction title is refered to as 'Departure of the S.S. Orient'

Dr Ursula Hoff, Charles Conder, Melbourne, 1972, 21-24, 100, plate no. 8 (colour illus.). plate no. 8; C20; titled 'Departure of the S.S. Orient, Circular Quay'

Martin Hopkinson, The British art journal [vol. V, no. 2], 'Charles Conder 1868-1909 by Ann Galbally and Barry Pearce', pg. 98-99, London, 2004, 98. NOTE: Book review.

Robert Hughes, The art of Australia, 'The Heidelberg School 1885-96', pg. 53-73, Melbourne, 1970, 12, 70 (illus.), 72. plate no. 23; titled 'The Departure of S.S. Orient'

Victoria Hynes, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Exhibitions', pg. 27, Sydney, 13 Jun 2003, 27 (colour illus.). Exhibition review in Metro Supplement

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 111 (colour illus.). titled 'Departure of the Orient, Circular Quay'

Patrick Jourdan, John-Peter Russell, un impressionniste australien : dans les collections françaises, autour du dépôt au Musée de Morlaix du legs Jouve, Musée du Louvre - fonds Orsay, Morlaix, 1997, 15.

Robyn Krause-Hale and Ruth Pullin, Conder & friends, 'The painting of modern life', Melbourne, 2003, (colour illus.), (colour illus., detail).

Brian Ladd, The Artist & the City, 'Introduction', pg. 4-5, Sydney, 1983, 4. titled 'Departure of S.S. Orient'

Jean-Claude Lesage, Peintres Australiens à Etaples, 'Les Picardistes', pg. 14-26, Étaples-sur-Mer, 2000, 15, 16 (colour illus.).

Lionel Lindsay, 150 years of Australian art, Sydney, 1938, (illus.). 156; not paginated

Patricia Macdonald, Exiles and emigrants: epic journies to Australia in the Victorian era, Melbourne, 2005, 99 (colour illus.), 137.

Patrick McCaughey, Encounters with Australian modern art, 'Affinity and antinomy in Australian painting 1960-1985', pg. 79-178, South Yarra, 2008, 89.

Ewen McDonald, AGNSW Collections, 'From Colonialism to late Modernism', pg. 7-106, Sydney, 1994, 14 (colour illus.). titled 'Departure of the Orient - Circular Quay'

John McDonald, Art of Australia. Vol 1: Exploration to Federation, 'Our hill of gold', pg. 419-484, Sydney, 2008, 443, 444 (colour illus.), 576.

Denise Mimmocchi, Australian Symbolism: the art of dreams, ‘Dreams of the bohemian idyll: Charles Conder and his impact’, pg. 90-110, Sydney, 2012, 90-91.

Hal Missingham, A retrospective exhibition of Australian painting, Section 3, Sydney, 1953, not paginated. 43; titled 'Departure of the S.S. Orient'

William Moore, The story of Australian art from the earliest known art of the continent to the art of today (Vol. 1), Sydney, 1934, opposite 91 (illus.).

Les Moseley, Look, 'From the Society president', pg. 9, Sydney, Aug 2015, 9.

National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Catalogue of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1893, Sydney, 1893, 107. 370; titled 'Departure of the 'Orient''

Olympic Civic Committee of Melbourne City Council, The arts festival of the Olympic Games, Melbourne: a guide to the exhibitions with introductory commentaries on the arts in Australia, Melbourne, 1956, 82. 16; titled 'Departure of the S.S. "Orient"'

Barry Pearce, Charles Conder 1868-1909, 'Between worlds: Conder in Australia', pg. 12-31, Sydney, 2003, 21, 47, 62, 63 (colour illus., detail), 84, 85 (colour illus.), 181, 192, 198, 199. 16; titled 'Departure of the Orient - Circular Quay'

Barry Pearce, The Weekend Australian, 'Forgotten impressionist', pg. 16-17, Sydney, 07 Jun 2003-08 Jun 2003, 17 (colour illus.).

Barry Pearce., Australian artist, 'Charles Conder: lost and found voice of the Heidelberg School', Chatswood, Jun 2003, (colour illus.).

Barry Pearce, Look: 1953-2003 celebrating 50 years, 'The enigmatic Charles Conder: spotlight on a lesser known Heidelberg painter', pg. 8-11, Sydney, May 2003, 10 (colour illus.). titled 'Departure of the Orient - Circular Quay'

Barry Pearce, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Introduction', pg. 10-16, Sydney, 2000, 12, 38, 53 (colour illus.), 300. titled 'Departure of the Orient - Circular Quay'

Barry Pearce and Haruo Arikawa, Two hundred years of Australian painting: nature, people and art in the southern continent, Tokyo, 1992, 94 (colour illus.). 49; titled 'Departure of the Orient - Circular Quay'; NOTE: See also unpublished translation of catalogue for entry.

Albie Thoms, Bohemians in the bush: the artists' camps of Mosman, Sydney, 1991, 45, 76. 13; titled 'Departure of the S.S. Orient, Circular Quay'

Barry Pearce, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian', pg. 13-35, Sydney, 1988, 17 (illus.). titled 'Departure of the Orient - Circular Quay'

Public Programmes Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'K' is for Conder: Charles Conder retrospective, Sydney, 2003, (illus.). not paginated

Sir John Rothenstein, The life and death of Conder, London, 1938, 9, 30, 37, 285. titled 'Departure of S.S. "Orient" from Circular Quay, Sydney'

Lynne Seear, American Impressionism & Realism: A landmark exhibition from The Met, 'Continental drift: Stories from Australia about an American exhibition', pg. 51-61, Sydney, 2009, 60 (colour illus.), 92 (colour illus., detail), 93, 96, 97 (colour illus.), 316, 330. 2A; Exhibited in the 'Cities Australia' section

Bernard Smith, 100 years of Australian painting, 'Foreword', pg. 2-4, Sydney, 1948, 5. 6; titled 'The Departure of S.S. Orient'

Bernard William Smith, Place, taste and tradition: a study of Australian art since 1788, 'Impressionism in Australia', pg. 112-145, South Melbourne, 1979, 122 (illus.). plate no. 40; titled 'Departure of S.S. Orient'

Bernard William Smith, A catalogue of Australian oil paintings in the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1875-1952, Sydney, 1953, 50. 127; titled 'Departure of the S.S. Orient'

William Splatt and Barbara Burton, 100 masterpieces of Australian painting, Adelaide, 1973, 46, 47 (colour illus.). plate no. 20; titled 'Departure of the 'Orient' - Circular Quay'

Jill Stowell., The Newcastle herald, 'Flamboyant architect out of the shadows: Imbalance redressed on distinguished career', Newcastle, 02 Aug 2003.

Arthur Streeton, Argus, 'Eaglemont in the 'Eighties: beginnings of art in Australia', pg. 49, Melbourne, 16 Oct 1934, 49.

Martin Terry, Maritime paintings of early Australia 1788-1900, 'The 1890s', pg. 90-104, Carlton South, 1998, 92 (colour illus., detail), 93 (colour illus.), 96. plate no. 58; titled 'Departure of the Orient - Circular Quay'

Martin Terry, Art Monthly Australia, 'Moulin Rouge: Charles Conder at the Art Gallery of New South Wales', pg. 31-34, Canberra, Nov 2003, 31-32.

Daniel Thomas., Sydney Harbour, ‘Introduction', Sydney, 1963. 21; titled 'Departure of the S.S. Orient, Circular Quay'; not paginated

Daniel Thomas, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'The Art Gallery of New South Wales', pg. 10-15, Sydney, Jan 1960, 14.

Laurie Thomas (Editor), Jubilee exhibition of Australian art, Sydney, 1951, 35. 73

Sydney Ure Smith (Editor), Art of Australia 1788-1941, New York, 1941, 35. 46; titled 'Departure of S.S. Orient'.

Elizabeth Young, Australian painting: colonial, impressionist, contemporary, 'Impressionist', pg.11-17, Adelaide, 1962, 16, 39, 55 (colour illus.). 33.

Editor Unknown (Editor), The Sydney Morning Herald, 'The pictures', pg. 5, Sydney, 18 Sep 1888, 5. NOTE: Review of Art Society of New South Wales Ninth Annual Exhibition.

The Tatler: art, literature, music and the drama illustrated, Melbourne, 05 Jun 1898, 24.

World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893: Catalogue of the exhibits in the New South Wales Courts, 'Department K - fine arts, painting, sculpture, architecture and decoration', Sydney, 1893, 435. 8; titled 'Departure of the Orient'

The Adelaide Festival of Arts 1962: Special exhibitions at the National Gallery of South Australia, 'Australian Painting: Colonial, Impressionoist, Contemporary', Adelaide, 1962, not paginated. 38; titled 'Departure of s.s. "Orient"'

Author Unknown, Art Society of New South Wales Ninth Annual Exhibition Catalogue, Sydney, Sep 1888, 34. 140; titled 'Departure of the Orient - Circular Quay'; priced £21; NOTE: Artist is 'Chas. Conder'.

Editor Unknown, Illustrated Sydney news, 'Leading pictures at the Art Society's exhibition', pg. 7, Sydney, 17 Sep 1888, 7 (illus.). Hand-drawn illustration of 'Departure of the Orient - Circular Quay'.

Editor Unknown (Editor), Sotheby's Melbourne: Important Australian Art, 25 & 26 August 2008, Australia, 2008, 41. NOTE: Artwork reference in relation to painting "The Fatal Colours" which was for sale.