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Australian art

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Still life with lute

(circa 1954-circa 1956)


Godfrey Miller


20 Aug 1893 - 10 May 1964


Godfrey Miller believed that painting and music were the richest sources for the communication of metaphysical ideas. Seeking to demonstrate the structural equivalence between these two forms of expression, in 1935 he wrote:

Music is not now merely a flowing past – as it were horizontal rhythmic measure. It appears also of a vertical nature ... By that I mean that the structure is expressed as the modern painters are expressing their structure ... I can see the same mentality ... rhythm binds together so finely but it has the shortcomings of not raising itself high vertically. The geometrical line of thought, with its ability of thinking of things towering and mounting has great power. I can see the value of Cézanne’s notes of pure colour. I can see also Picasso’s piling up of things – bits of paper, pamphlets, books and playing cards ... A structure must raise itself.


Other Title

The lute


(circa 1954-circa 1956)

Media category


Materials used

oil, pen and black ink on canvas on hardboard


64.5 x 82.5 cm board; 69.8 x 87.2 x 4.3 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed l.r. corner, pen and black ink "Godfrey Miller/ O". Not dated.


Purchased 1956


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Godfrey Miller

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 7 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 21 publications


Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Sydney, 1972, 121 (colour illus.).

Sue Cramer, Cubism & Australian art, 'This Spiritual Adventure: Postwar Cubism 1950-1979', pg. 154-197, Melbourne, 2009, 158 (colour illus.). NOTE: two related paintings reproduced.'Still life with lute', 1960-63, collection of the Newcastle Region Art Gallery, NSW and 'Still life with muscial instruments' circa 1958, collection of the National Gallery of Victoria.

David Jones' Art Gallery, Sydney, Australian artists of note exhibition, Sydney, 1956. 31; titled 'Still Life with Lute'; priced 200 guineas

Deborah Edwards, Godfrey Miller, Sydney, 1996, 44, 47 (colour illus.), 123. plate no. 34

Deborah Edwards, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Mosaic and figure', pg. 213-214, Sydney, 2000, 216 (colour illus.), 301.

Deborah Edwards, Brought to Light: Australian Art 1850–1965 from the Queensland Art Gallery collection, 'Art and Mysticism. Godfrey Miller Trees in moonlight', pg. 244-249, Brisbane, 1998, 248, 249 (colour illus.).

Sasha Grishin, Parallel visions: works from the Australian collection, 'Roger Kemp / Godfrey Miller', pg. 104-115, Sydney, 2002, front cover and inside front flap (colour illus., detail), 112 (colour illus.), 113, 145, 147.

Paul Haefliger, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'New Exhibition by Surrealist Gleeson', pg. 2, Sydney, 21 Nov 1956, 2.

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 159 (colour illus.).

Kay Keavney, The Australian women's weekly, 'Godfrey Miller:The man who became a legend', pg. 11, Sydney, 16 Nov 1966, 11 (colour illus.). NOTE: Caption reads "'The Lute' bought for a mere 200 gns by the N.S.W. Art Gallery, Sydney, in 1956. Present value is much more."

Ewen McDonald, AGNSW Collections, Sydney, 1994, 63 (colour illus.).

Hal Missingham, The studio, 'Recent Australian Painting', pg. 33-41, 63, London, Feb 1957, 41 (colour illus.). Collection: The artist; Titled: 'The Lute'

National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Purchases and Acquisitions for 1956 National Art Gallery of N.S.W., Sydney, 1956, 8. 11

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, 142. 92; titled 'The lute'; Collection National Art Gallery of New South Wales

Peter Pinson, Australian painters of the twentieth century, 'Godfrey Miller', pg. 52-63, Sydney, 2000, 57 (colour illus.).

Lisa Slade and Rachael Kirsten, Enter Art, Sydney, 2000, sheet number 11 (colour illus.). Education kit produced by the NSW Dept of Education and Training as teaching resource for primary school teachers.

Laurence Thomas., Contemporary Australian painters, 'Foreword', Ottawa, 1957, (illus.). 41, 3

Clive Turnbull, Jean Campbell and Daniel Thomas AM, Australian painting: colonial, impressionist, contemporary, Adelaide, 1962, 45. 146

The Adelaide Festival of Arts 1962: Special exhibitions at the National Gallery of South Australia, 'Australian Painting: Colonial, Impressionist, Contemporary', Adelaide, 1962. 154; titled 'Still life with Lute'; Collection of Art Gallery of New South Wales; not paginated

Editor Unknown (Editor), The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, 17 Feb 1965, 13.

Author Unknown, The Art Gallery of New South Wales Picture Book, Sydney, 1972, 121.