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Australian art

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From a distant land



David Davies

Australia, England

21 May 1864 - 26 Mar 1939


'From a distant land' is a work from David Davies' student years and reveals the academic teaching influence of George Folingsby, art master at the National Gallery of Victoria Art School from 1882. This firmly organised painting makes use of the most prevalent compositional device that flourished under Folinsgby: from a darkened room a door opens out to the glaring sun of the Australian bush, allowing the interior narrative element to expand into the outside world.

Davies subsequently left Australia in 1897, spending time in France and England and encountering plein-air painting first-hand. He eventually settled at St Ives in Cornwall, where he died in 1939.




Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


80.9 x 115.6 cm stretcher; 125.0 x 157.0 x 8.5 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. corner, brown oil "Davies 89".


Purchased 1968

Accession number


Artist information

David Davies

Works in the collection


Shown in 4 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 16 publications


Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Sydney, 1972, 76 (colour illus.).

Leigh Astbury., Studies in Australian art, 'George Follingsby and Australian subject painting', Melbourne, 1978, 53 (illus.), 54.

Leigh Astbury, City bushmen: the Heidelberg school and the rural mythology, Melbourne, 1985, 41 (colour illus.). colour plate no. 7

Okko Boer, Masters of the Heidelberg School, Leichhardt, 1998, 82 (colour illus.). plate no. 82

Susan Bruce, A treasury of Australian bush painting, Adelaide, 1979, (colour illus.). colour plate no. 28

Kitty Hauser, The Weekend Australian, 'Envoy for our colonial past', pg. 2, Canberra, 28 Mar 2009-29 Mar 2009, 2 (colour illus.). Review section

Mervyn Horton (Editor), Art and Australia (Vol. 21, No. 3), Sydney, Autumn 1983, 348 (colour illus.).

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 110 (colour illus.).

Patricia Macdonald, Exiles and emigrants: epic journies to Australia in the Victorian era, Melbourne, 2005, 112, 113 (colour illus.), 137.

Hal Missingham (Editor), Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, Sydney, Apr 1969, 454, 457 (illus.).

Barry Pearce., Old master paintings from the USSR: A survey of four centuries of European art. Report, 'David Davies', Sydney, 1979. 49; catalogue entry

John Rickard, Australia: A Cultural History, Clayton, 2017, 33 (illus.).

Lynne Seear, Brought to Light: Australian Art 1850–1965 from the Queensland Art Gallery collection, ''Strapped to the Mangle': Art, Work and the 'Lady' Artist. Vida Lahey Monday morning', pg. 112-15, Brisbane, 1998, 114.

Cameron Sparks., Art and Australia [vol. 16, no. 1], 'David Davies 1864-1939', Sydney, Sep 1978, 68.

Cameron Sparks, David Davies 1864-1939, 'David Davies: 1864-1939', pg. 9-20, Ballarat, 1984, 10, 33 (illus.). 10

William Splatt and Barbara Burton, 100 masterpieces of Australian painting, Adelaide, 1973, 56 (colour illus.), 57. plate no. 25