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Australian art

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The mockers



Arthur Boyd

Australia, England

24 Jul 1920 - 24 Apr 1999


Born into an extraordinarily artistic family, Arthur Boyd is considered one of Australia’s greatest painters of the 20th century. In the 1940s, he produced a series of paintings which tackled overtly biblical themes, set predominantly within the Victorian landscape near the Boyd family property at Murrumbeena, close to Port Phillip Bay.

'The mockers' is one of a series of about 15 paintings executed between 1945 and 1948 after Boyd’s discharge from the army. Responding to the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps, witnessed through newsreel footage, Boyd drew on his knowledge of the allegories of Pieter Breugel the Elder and Hieronymus Bosch, in an attempt to find a personal answer to the moral chaos and social disorder he observed.


Place where the work was made

Murrumbeena Victoria Australia



Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas on hardboard


84.3 x 102.2 cm board; 86.2 x 104.0 x 3.0 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed l.l., black oil "Arthur Boyd". Not dated.


Purchased 1965

Accession number


Artist information

Arthur Boyd

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 17 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 38 publications


Jenny Aland, Art connections, Port Melbourne, 1991, 91 (colour illus.).

Jenny Aland and Max Darby (Editors), Art Connections, 'Why talk and write about artworks', pg. 89-92, Port Melbourne, 1998, 91 (colour illus.).

Jane Alexander, Sea of dreams: Port Phillip Bay 1915-2013: Part Two, 'Introduction', pg. 9-15, Mornington, 2013, 12, 13 (colour illus.), 50.

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Sydney, 1972, 113 (colour illus.).

Diana Brydon, Mosaic: a journal for the comparative study of literature, 'Tradition and Post-Colonialism: Hugh Hood and Martin Boyd', pg.1-15, Winnipeg, Sep 1982, 6 (illus.), 8 (illus. detail),11, 12 (illus. detail).

Our Art Critic, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Contemporary art more conservative', pg 5, Sydney, 12 Nov 1946, unknown. Review of Eighth Interstate Exhibition of the CAS.

Rosemary Crumlin., O Soul O Spirit O Fire, 'Beginnings', Brisbane, 2001, not paginated. exhibition list

Ursula De Jong, Art and architecture of twentieth century: Australia and the West: Study guide, Geelong, 1993, 87 (illus.).

Patricia Dobrez and Peter Herbst, The art of the Boyds: generations of artistic achievement, Sydney, 1990, 100 (colour illus.). plate no. 93

F.A.Philipp, Present opinion, 'On three paintings by Arthur Boyd', pg. 9-14, Melbourne, 1947, 11 (illus.).

Peter Fuller', Modern painters, 'Arthur Boyd interviewed, pg. 20-26, London, Summer 1990, 22 (illus.).

Margaret Garlick, Dissent: a radical quarterly, 'The extremes of Arthur Boyd', pg. 21-23, Melbourne, Spring 1964, 22.

James Gleeson, Contemporary Australian painting, Unknown, 1956. 5, lent by the artist

Sasha Grishin, Australian art: a history, 'Murrumbeena and the humanist tradition in Melbourne art', pg. 332-347, Carlton, 2013, 340, 341 (colour illus.), 550, 557. plate no. 33.6

Helen Verity Hewitt, Patrick White, painter, manqué: paintings, painters and their influence on his writing, 'Jerusalem', pg. 54-64, Carlton, 2002, 61.

Jean Hillier and Denis Cryle (Editors), Consent and consensus: Politics, media and governance in twentieth century Australia, Perth, 2005, front cover (colour illus.).

Dr Ursula Hoff, The art of Arthur Boyd, London, 1986, 17-18, 42-43. 36

Ursula Hoff, Meanjin, 'The paintings of Arthur Boyd', pg. 143-147, Carlton, Jun 1958, 144.

Mervyn Horton (Editor), Art and Australia, Sydney, Sep 1965, 118 (illus.).

Barry Humphries, Australians on Arthur Boyd, 'A conscientious chaperon', pg. 4-6, Melbourne, 1998, 4 (colour illus.).

Paul Magin, The Murrumbeena Boyds: just like us; but different, Caulfield, 2006, 18. List of works.

Ray Matthew, London magazine, 'Arthur Boyd', pg. 38-42, London, Aug 1963, 39.

Susan McCulloch-Uehlin, The Weekend Australian, 'The lie of the land', pg. 16-19, Sydney, 20 Nov 1999-21 Nov 1999, 18.

Janet McKenzie, Arthur Boyd: Art and life, London, 2000, 64 (colour illus., detail), 65-66.

Barry Pearce, Arthur Boyd retrospective, Sydney, 1993, 64 (colour illus.). 46

Barry Pearce, Look, 'The legacy in Sydney Arthur Boyd', pg. 18-20, Melbourne, Jul 1999, 20.

Barry Pearce, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian', pg. 13-35, Sydney, 1988, 24.

Franz Philipp, Arthur Boyd, London, 1967, XII (illus.), 241. 3.1, Biblical Paintings 1945-50, including The Grange Frescoes

John Reed, Ern Malley's journal, 'Arthur Boyd: a personal reaction to his painting and career', pg. 29-32, Melbourne, Nov 1954, 31.

Barrett Reid, Bernard William Smith, Janine Burke, Charles Merewether, Christine Dixon and Max Harris, Angry Penguins and Realist Painting in Melbourne in the 1940s, London, 1988, 76, 131 (illus.), 169. 112

T G Rosenthal., Retrospective exhibition of paintings, drawings and other work by Arthur Boyd: 14 April to 10 May 1969, 'The art of Arthur Boyd', Edinburgh, 1969, (illus.).

Martin Terry, Masterpieces of Australian Painting, Sydney, 1984, 149 (colour illus.).

Daniel Thomas AM (Editor), 1965 Acquisitions, Sydney, 1965, 13-14.

Laurence Thomas, Twelve Australian artists, 'Introduction', pg. 6-10, London, 1953, 16. 33

Whitechapel Art Gallery and Arthur Boyd, Arthur Boyd: retrospective exhibition (1962), London, 1962. 28

Natalie Wilson, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Out of Melbourne: realisms and mythologies', pg. 163-164, Sydney, 2000, 164, 172 (colour illus.), 300.

Mary Woodburne, Look, 'Arthur Boyd 1921-1999: The mockers', pg. 38, Melbourne, Jun 2000, 38 (colour illus.). Australian Icon series

Editor Unknown (Editor), Daily telegraph and daily news, 'Emotional art in exhibition', Sydney, 13 Nov 1946, unknown. Review of Eighth Interstate Exhibition of the CAS.