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Australian art

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The Harbour from McMahon's Point



Lloyd Rees


17 Mar 1895 - 02 Dec 1988


Rees described his first impressions of Sydney as he arrived by ship through the Heads in 1916.

'When ... the ship cleared the great cliffs of North Head and the harbour spread itself before me with all its bays and vistas, its sculptured foreshores and russet green vegetation, and later its buildings caught in the golden light with rows and rows of them defining the contours of the hills, and the whole bathed in opalescence of colour never previously seen - is it any wonder that Sydney then and there entered my heart never to leave it again ... In that first long look Sydney cast her spell and its has remained with me ever since ...'
- Lloyd Rees 1969

Rees' drawings of the 1930s focused almost exclusively on the harbour as subject, and he had to negotiate many difficulties in his attempts to achieve comparable revelations in his paintings. He won the 1950 Wynne Prize for landscape painting with 'The harbour from McMahon's Point'. Upon receiving it he said, 'I noticed particularly that my pictures were getting lower and lower in tone … as pictures they wouldn't come forward ...I suddenly thought - that was it, you must use more white. So I ... decided on titanium. This brought about a terrific change at once.'

This painting won the Wynne Prize in 1950 and was acquired by the Gallery in 1950.


Other Titles

The harbour from McMahons Point

McMahons Point, Sydney

The harbour from McMahon's Point



Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


77.2 x 99.7 cm stretcher; 103.9 x 125.9 x 8.0 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.l. corner, red oil "L REES/ 50".


Purchased 1950


Not on display

Accession number


Wynne Prize

Winner - 1950

Artist information

Lloyd Rees

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 15 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 35 publications


Clary Akon, Limelight Magazine, 'Nature by design: the art of Lloyd Rees', pg. 96-97, Sydney, Jun 2013, 96.

Christopher Allen, The Weekend Australian, 'Tangible Life Forms', pg. 12-13, Sydney, 01 Jun 2013-02 Jun 2013, 13 (colour illus.).

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Lloyd Rees Retrospective, ‘Catalogue: paintings’, pg. 25-32, Sydney, 1969, 28. titled 'The harbour from McMahons Point'; 43

Giles Auty, The Weekend Australian, 'Reflections on a nation's image', pg. 4, Sydney, 12 Aug 2000-13 Aug 2000, 4 (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.

Helen Campbell, Wynne centenary 1897-1997: a selection of past winners from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 1997, (colour illus.).

Helen Campbell, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Out of Sydney: city and hinterlands', pg. 185-186, Sydney, 2000, 197 (colour illus.), 301.

Rob Ditessa', Artist's palette, 'Icons on show', pg. 54-59, Sydney, 2000, 56 (colour illus.).

Steve Dow, The (Sydney) Magazine, 'Lloyd Rees', Sydney, 22 Feb 2013.

Douglas Dundas, Art Gallery of New South Wales quarterly, 'The Wynne and Sulman prizes', pg. 53-56, Sydney, Jan 1961, 55 (illus.).

Dinah Dysart, The Wynne prize: an Australian landscape tradition, 'The public and critical response to the Wynne prize', pg. 15-22, Sydney, 1986, 2 (illus.), 22, 26.

F.L., The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Prize-winning paintings in Archibald and Wynne contests', pg. 3, Sydney, 20 Jan 1951, 3 (illus.).

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian collection: painting and sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 158 (colour illus.).

Lou Klepac, Affinities: Brett Whiteley & Lloyd Rees, 'Introduction', pg. 2-4, Sydney, 2001, 5 (colour illus.), 8.

Hendrik Kolenberg, Lloyd Rees Drawings - Centenary Retrospective, 'Introduction', pg. 7-19, Sydney, 1995, 14.

Hendrik Kolenberg, Look, ‘Celebrating Lloyd Rees: a book and show on the Gallery’s collection of his work’, pg. 21-23, Sydney, Mar 2013, 22.

Brian Ladd and Alan Krell, The Artist & the City, Sydney, 1983, 12, 14 (colour illus.). 22

Elwyn Lynn, The Australian landscape and its artists, ‘Artists and paintings’, pg. 5-6, Rushcutters Bay, 1977, 6, 92, 94 (colour illus.).

Sandra McGrath, Sydney Harbour Paintings from 1794, Milton, 1979, 58.

Hal Missingham, Pix, ‘Australian art no. 13: ‘The harbour from McMahon’s Point’ (by Lloyd Rees)’, pg. 31, Sydney, 09 Dec 1967, 31 (illus.).

National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Purchases and Acquisitions for 1950, Sydney, 1951, 8. 29

Lloyd O’Neil., Classic Australian paintings, ‘Lloyd Rees’, South Yarra, 1983, n.pag. (colour illus.). plate no. 50

Barry Pearce., Fifteen decades of Australian paintings, ‘List of works’, Sydney, 1981, cover (colour illus.). titled ‘The Harbour from McMahon’s Point’; 13

Renee Renée, Lloyd Rees, ‘Sydney: 1917-42’, pg. 23-50, Melbourne, 1972, 62, 124. O137

Arnold Shore, The Studio, ‘Contemporary Australian painting’, pg. 145-153, London, May 1953, 147 (illus.). titled ‘McMahons Point, Sydney’

William Splatt and Barbara Burton, 100 masterpieces of Australian painting, Adelaide, 1973, 170, 171 (colour illus.). plate no. 82

Michael Stutchbury (Editor), The Australian Financial Review, 'Illustrating love of landscapes', pg. L3, Melbourne, 19 Apr 2013-21 Apr 2013, L3 (colour illus.).

Nicola Teffer, Rosie Nice and Caroline Mackaness (Curators), Sydney by ferry, Sydney, 2002, 7.

Martin Terry, Masterpieces of Australian Painting, ‘Lloyd Rees’, pg. 112-115, Sydney, 1984, 114-115 (colour illus.).

The Brett Whiteley Studio, Whiteley & Rees: More affinities, Sydney, 2005, (illus.). List of works

Daniel Thomas., Sydney Harbour, 'Introduction', Sydney, 1963. 46

Laurie Thomas (Editor), Jubilee exhibition of Australian art, Sydney, 1951, 47. 146

Roland Wakelin, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'The artistic development of Lloyd Rees', pg. 490-492, Sydney, Oct 1969, 501 (illus.). 'Lloyd Rees special number'

Judith White (Editor), Look, 'Australian visions', pg. 12, Melbourne, Aug 2000, 12 (colour illus.).

Gavin Wilson, Harbourlife, 'Harbourlife', pg. 7-32, Sydney, 2007, 56, 14-15, 15 (colour illus.).

1951 Archibald Prize illustrated, Sydney, 1951. 43