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Australian art

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The fig tree, McMahons Point



Lloyd Rees


17 Mar 1895 - 02 Dec 1988


Lloyd Rees valued drawing highly and it was an integral part of his oeuvre. Indeed, through the 1930s it was almost his exclusive focus. In 1931 he moved to McMahon's Point, on the north shore of the harbour, where he made many drawings of views towards Circular Quay, Balmain, Goat Island and Ball's Head.

"The full measure of my highly detailed drawings of Sydney Harbour were done at McMahon's Point. It was drawing purely for the sake of drawing, for by now, I was well out of the swim of the art world ... Drawing was simply an obsession and I was completely absorbed in the discovery of form and composition. The drawings were by no means naturalistic in the sense of simply selecting a subject and drawing it, for there were things brought in and things left out. They were highly worked and I had an intense interest in the manipulation of them. I drew in the morning and then took the work home and looked at it in the afternoon and if I saw anything superfluous, I rubbed it out."
- Lloyd Rees 1985

Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2000


Other Titles

Fig tree - McMahon's Point

Fig tree, McMahon's Point

Fig tree, McMahons Pt.

McMahons Point Fig Tree

Place where the work was made

Sydney New South Wales Australia



Media category


Materials used

pencil on ivory wove paper


18.8 x 20.8 cm image; 22.2 x 22.1 cm sheet (irreg.)

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.l., pencil "L REES/ 1931".


Purchased 1955


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Lloyd Rees

Artist profile

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 9 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 10 publications


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

Art Gallery of New South Wales, (Lloyd Rees), ‘List of works: drawings’, pp 11-16, Sydney, 1942, 13. titled 'Fig tree, McMahons Pt.'; 24

Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1955 Acquisitions, Sydney, 1955, 12. 35

Helen Campbell, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Out of Sydney: city and hinterlands', pp 185-186, Sydney, 2000, 196 (colour illus.), 301.

Dennis Colsey, Hand and eye - a survey of artists materials and techniques: Art Gallery of New South Wales Travelling Art Exhibition 1970, 'Introduction: artists' materials and techniques', Sydney, 1969, (illus.). 16

Renée Free, Lloyd Rees, ‘Part 1: Sydney: 1917-42’, pp 23-50, Melbourne, 1972, 45 (illus.). titled 'McMahons Point Fig Tree'; D114; plate no. 36

Lou Klepac, Affinities: Brett Whiteley & Lloyd Rees, 'Introduction', pp 2-4, Sydney, 2001, 7 (illus.), 8.

Hendrik Kolenberg, Lloyd Rees Drawings - Centenary Retrospective, 'The thirties', pp 43-64, Sydney, 1995, 43, 44 (illus.). 33

Sydney Ure Smith, Art in Australia [series 3, no. 42], ‘Pencil drawings by Lloyd Rees’, Sydney, Feb 1932. plate no. 1

Roland Wakelin, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'The artistic development of Lloyd Rees', pp 490-492, Sydney, Oct 1969, 495 (illus.). 'Lloyd Rees special number'