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On the Murrumbidgee



Elioth Gruner

New Zealand, Australia

16 Dec 1882 - 17 Oct 1939


The sweeping mountainscapes of Gruner and Heysen of the 1920s were symbolic expressions of a pastoral utopia in which a purism of form - 'the simplification and reduction to essentials' - which evolved from the modernism of Europe, was adopted to suggest the spirit and essence of the landscape.

Gruner's work became more severe in form and outline during this period, emphasising subtle harmonies of tone and colour and creating a feeling of stability and permanence, in contrast to his previous explorations into the evanescence of light and colour.

"Form becomes of equal consideration with light, and his work is now more carefully organised, extremely simple, less immediate in direct emotional appeal, but infinitely more pictorial. Gruner has substituted the science of picture making for the science of painting light, preserving, however, that sense of light which made his earlier pictures remarkable ...".
Basil Burdett, 1929

Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2001

This painting won the Wynne Prize in 1929 and was acquired by the Gallery in 1930.




Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


101.6 x 123.2 cm stretcher; 131.5 x 152.5 x 12.0 cm frame :

0 - Whole; 100.5 x 121.8 cm; SIGHT DIMENSION

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. corner, grey oil "GRUNER/ 1929".


Purchased 1930


Not on display

Accession number


Wynne Prize

Winner - 1929

Artist information

Elioth Gruner

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 13 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 26 publications


Deboarh Clark, Elioth Gruner: the texture of light, 'Elioth Gruner: the texture of light', pg. 9-89, Canberra, 2014, 61 (colour illus.), 70, 96, 100.

Dinah Dysart, The Wynne prize: an Australian landscape tradition, 'The public and critical response to the Wynne prize', pg. 15-22, Sydney, 1986, 18, 25.

Deborah Edwards, Two centuries of Australian painting: a selection from the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Introduction', pg. 8-14, Sydney, 1986, 32 (illus.). 32

Lou Klepac, Parallel visions: works from the Australian collection, 'Hans Heysen / Elioth Gruner / Horace Trennery', pg. 32-47, Sydney, 2002, 143.

Lionel Lindsay, 150 years of Australian art, Sydney, 1938, (illus.). 38; not paginated

J. S. MacDonald., Australasian post, 'Gruner exhibition', Melbourne, 21 Jan 1933, unknown. Exhibition review

Humphrey McQueen, Hemisphere, 'Humbly anonymous', 36-41., Australian Capital Territory, Apr 1979, 41 (colour illus.).

Hal Missingham., Hemisphere: an Asian-Australian magazine, 'Paintings by Australian artists', Sydney, May 1957, 17 (illus.).

Julie Roberts, Art and Australia (Vol. 37, No. 2), 'Seeing the light', pg. 222-231, Sydney, Dec 1999-Feb 2000, 229 (colour illus.), 230.

Beatrice Tildesley, Sydney mail, 'The Gruner exhibition at the National Art Gallery', pg. 17, Sydney, 28 Dec 1932, 17. Exhibition review

Art Gallery of New South Wales, A selection of eighty-two reproductions mainly from the Australian collection and including examples from the British, French and Dutch [Art Gallery of New South Wales], Sydney, 1959, (colour illus.). plate no. 29

Unknown, A catalogue of Australian oil paintings in the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1875-1952, Sydney, 1953, 83. 238

The Sydney morning herald, 'Elioth Gruner exhibition: memorial to a master', pg. 6, Sydney, 17 Apr 1940, 6.

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

Unknown, Loan exhibition of the works of Elioth Gruner, Sydney, 1932. 18

The Sydney morning herald, '"On the Murrumbidgee"', pg. 13, Sydney, 08 Mar 1930, 13 (illus.).

The Sydney morning herald, 'Art Gallery's Gruner exhibition', pg. 12, Sydney, 20 Dec 1932, 12 (illus.). Photograph depicts artist and former gallery director, J S MacDonald, advising two installation staff on the hanging of this painting

Sotheby's Australia, Sotheby's Melbourne: important Australian art (24 & 25 August 2009), Melbourne, 2009, 15 (colour illus.). lot no. 6 is titled 'Study for 'On the Murrumbidgee''.

Director's choice 2005: celebrating 25 years of Gould Galleries with an exhibition of 25 significant works, South Yarra, 2005. 7; 'Study for "On the Murrumbidgee"', 1929, oil on canvas

Weekend advertiser, 'River of Wagga's dreams', pg. 24, Wagga Wagga, 12 Oct 2002-13 Oct 2002, 24.

Unknown, The Big River show: Murrumbidgee Riverine, Wagga Wagga, 2002, 12, 13 (colour illus.), 82.

Helen Campbell, Wynne centenary 1897-1997: a selection of past winners from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 1997. not paginated

Barry Pearce and Unknown, Two hundred years of Australian painting: nature, people and art in the southern continent, Tokyo, 1992, 123 (colour illus.). 72

Unknown and Unknown, Australian painting 1788-1990, 'Leviticus 1913-32', pg. 167-204, South Melbourne, 1991, 188 (illus.). 108

Barry Pearce, Elioth Gruner 1882-1939, Sydney, 1983, 52 (illus.). 58

Unknown, Place, taste and tradition: a study of Australian art since 1788, 'The modern movement in Australia', pg.181-213, South Melbourne, 1979, 142 (illus.), 186. plate no. 52; titled 'The Murrumbidgee Ranges'