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Australian art

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Roi soleil



Ian Fairweather

Scotland, Australia

29 Sep 1891 - 20 May 1974


Painting to me is something of a tightrope act; it is between representation and the other thing – whatever that is. It is difficult to keep one’s balance.

Ian Fairweather, 1963

The central figure of the boy king in 'Roi soleil' asserts his divine status with the gesture of his hand. His image reappears in successive layers on the board, emphasising his presence and authority. The bottom half of the composition
suggests the subject is seated on a buffalo.

The first of Ian Fairweather’s large paintings, 'Roi soleil' was painted in the summer of 1956 when he had just finished building himself a new hut on Bribie Island which, though primitive, greatly improved his living conditions.




Media category


Materials used

gouache on paperboard on hardboard


99.0 x 72.5 cm board; 101.4 x 85.8 x 7.7 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.l. corner, "IF [monogram, grey gouache] 57 [pencil]/ ...".


Purchased 1957

Accession number


Artist information

Ian Fairweather

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 12 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 26 publications


Murray Bail, Ian Fairweather, Sydney, 1981, 128, 129 (colour illus.). plate no. 61; 125

Murray Bail, Mary Eagle, Drusilla Modjeska, Martin Armiger, Joanna Capon and Pierre Ryckmans, Fairweather, Australia, 1994, 99 (colour illus.), 142. plate no. 27

Murray Bail, Ian Fairweather, 'The necessity of movement', pg. 130-140, Sydney, 2009, 133, 136, 137 (colour illus.), 138, 254. plate no. 118; 136

Kym Bonython, Ross K Luck, Laurie Thomas and Elwyn Lynn, Modern Australian painting, 1950/1975, Adelaide, 1980, 35 (colour illus.).

Jean Campbell, Australian watercolour painters: 1780 to the present day, 'The 1950s and 1960s: Sydney and the abstract painters', pg. 198-213, Sydney, 1989, 200 (colour illus.).

Jonathan Cooper (Editor), The Art Gallery of New South Wales Bulletin, 'Exhibitions', pg. 10-17, Sydney, Apr 1995-May 1995, 12 (colour illus.).

Sue Cramer, Cubism & Australian art, 'This Spiritual Adventure: Postwar Cubism 1950-1979', pg. 154-197, Melbourne, 2009, 163.

Paula Dredge, Margaret Sawicki, Steven Miller and Lindsay Parker, S.A. Parker Framing Works, 'Works in the collection with known Parker frames', pg. 27-68, Sydney, 2004, 67 (illus.).

Christine France, New Directions 1952-1962, 'New directions 1952-1962', pg. 7-19, Sydney, 1991, 42. 35

Tom Heath, Architecture in Australia [vol. 54 no. 4], 'Ian Fairweather retrospective exhibition', pg. 106-107, Sydney, Dec 1965, 107 (illus.).

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 161 (colour illus.).

John McDonald, Australian painters of the twentieth century, 'Ian Fairweather', pg. 28-39, Sydney, 2000, 32, 33 (colour illus.).

Barry Pearce, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian', pg. 13-35, Sydney, 1988, 32.

Barry Pearce and Patrick McCaughey, Twentieth century Australian masterworks from the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Fred Williams Pilbara Series, Tokyo, 1985, 19 (colour illus.). 4

Barry Pearce and Haruo Arikawa, Two hundred years of Australian painting: nature, people and art in the southern continent, Tokyo, 1992, 150 (colour illus.). 93

Queensland Art Gallery (Curator), Fairweather: a retrospective exhibition, South Brisbane, Jun 1965. 35; not paginated

William Splatt and Barbara Burton, 100 masterpieces of Australian painting, Adelaide, 1973, 174, 175 (colour illus.). plate no. 84

Daniel Thomas, Australian painting: colonial, impressionist, contemporary, 'Contemporary', pg.21-27, Adelaide, 1962, 43, 70 (colour illus.). 108

Daniel Thomas, Art and Australia, 'Australian collection', pg. 52-62, Sydney, Jul 1972, 57 (illus.).

Laurie Thomas, Modern Australian painting and sculpture: a survey of Australian art from 1950-1960, 'Introduction', pg. 1-10, Adelaide, 1960, 48 (colour illus.).

Donald Williams, In our own image: the story of Australian art, Sydney, 2002, 153 (colour illus.).

Donald Williams, In our own image: the story of Australian art, Sydney, 1995, 147 (colour illus.).

INK: Whiteley and Others, Sydney, 2006. List of works

Project 41 - the mosaic, the grid, Sydney, 1983, 2, 5 (illus.). 7

The Adelaide Festival of Arts 1962: Special exhibitions at the National Gallery of South Australia, 'Australian Painting: Colonial, Impressionist, Contemporary', Adelaide, 1962. not paginated; 126

East of the Sun, Sydney, 1997. List of works