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Australian art

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Rhythmic composition in yellow green minor



Roy de Maistre

Australia, England

27 Mar 1894 - 01 Mar 1968


In late 1918, Roy de Maistre collaborated with fellow artist Roland Wakelin in exploring the relationship between art and music. Their experiments produced Australia's first abstract paintings, characterised by high-key colour, large areas of flat paint and simplified forms. The works received critical acclaim, but modernist developments were largely derided by the conservative establishment.

This painting exemplifies de Maistre's theory of colour harmonisation based on analogies between colours of the spectrum and notes of the musical scale. It is also aligned with de Maistre's search for spiritual meaning through abstraction, akin to other artists such as Kandinsky who were interested in the ideas of the theosophy and anthroposophy movements, spiritualism and the occult.

From the Gallery Shop


Other Title

Frozen Music, 1919



Media category


Materials used

oil on paperboard


85.3 x 115.3 cm board; 89.5 x 119.9 x 5.0 cm frame

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Purchased 1960

Accession number


Artist information

Roy de Maistre

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 6 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 36 publications


Kate Bowan, Colour in art: Revisiting 1919, 'The very song of life: A musical context for the 1919 colour in art exhibition', pg.19-21, Sydney, 2008, 5, 7, 20, 21 (colour illus.), 36 (colour illus.), 62.

Mary Eagle, Australian Modern Painting Between the Wars 1914-1939, 'De Maistre's war', pg. 42-51, Sydney, 1989, 44, 45 (colour illus.). plate no. 28

Deborah Edwards, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Moderns', pg. 103-104, Sydney, 2000, 103 (colour illus.), 104, 108 (colour illus., detail), 109 (colour illus.), 301.

Adam Geczy, Video Logic, 'Music + Video = I See Music', pg. 67-74, Sydney, 2008, 68, 69 (colour illus.).

Sasha Grishin, Australian art: a history, 'The shock of early modernism', pg. 206-217, Carlton, 2013, 206 (colour illus., detail), 208 (colour illus.), 209, 549, 559. plate no. 21.1

Lesley Harding, Cubism & Australian art, 'L'Esprit Nouveau 1913-1929', pg. 19-47, Melbourne, 2009, 23, 24 (colour illus.).

Helen Verity Hewitt, Patrick White, painter, manqué: paintings, painters and their influence on his writing, 'Strangers in the Motherland', pg. 5-19, Carlton, 2002, 7.

Lois Hunter, The Australian art companion - A selection of influential artists, 'Roy de Maistre', pg. 24-25, Balgowlah Heights, (1990), 24, 25 (colour illus.).

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 136 (colour illus.).

Bruce James, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Milking works for a moment in the sun', pg. 13, Sydney, 03 Apr 2002, 13. Review of 'Parallel Visions' exhibition

Heather Johnson, Roy de Maistre; The Australian years 1894-1930, 'Colour music 1919', pg. 29-38, 1988, 35, 36 (colour illus.), 37-8, 97, 121. plate no. 8

Heather Johnson, Brought to Light: Australian Art 1850–1965 from the Queensland Art Gallery collection, 'Reality or Religious Fantasy? Roy de Maistre and Herbert Badham', pg. 218-223, Brisbane, 1998, 218, 222, 223 (colour illus.).

Heather Johnson, Parallel visions: works from the Australian collection, 'Roy de Maistre / Roland Wakelin', pg. 48-59, Sydney, 2002, 4-5 (colour illus., detail), 48, 49 (colour illus.), 51, 142, 147.

John MacDonald, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Men of colours: Australia's early abstract paintings are music to the eyes', pg. 16-17, Sydney, 13 Sep 2008-14 Sep 2008, 16 (colour illus.), 17.

David Marr, Patrick White: A life by David Marr, Milsons Point, 1991, 147.

Maura McDonnell, Visual music marathon, 'Visual music', pg. 2-20, Boston, 2007, 4 (colour illus.).

Jenny McFarlane, Art and Australia (Vol. 40, No. 2), '"Colour in art" and Alexander Hector's Electric Colour-Music Organ', pg. 292-297, Sydney, Dec 2002-Feb 2003, 292-293 (colour illus.), 296.

Jenny McFarlane, Concerning the Spiritual: The influence of the Theosophical Society on Australian Artists 1890-1934, 'Science versus Spirit: Colour-Music in Sydney', pg.122-153, North Melbourne, 2012, 82 (colour illus.), 137, 139-140. Note: colour plate pages in between pg. 82-83 are unnumbered.

Boo Patrick, Look, 'Sydney students speak...about Sydney Moderns', pg. 26-27, Sydney, Mar 2014, 26.

Annabel Pegus, Modern times: the untold story of modernism in Australia, '2 Colour in art', pg. 16-21, Sydney, 2008, 18 (colour illus.), 20.

Annabel Pegus, Look, 'Resonance of colour and music: a parallel vision that reached out to another generation', pg. 12-13, Sydney, May 2002, 12 (colour illus.), 13.

Laura Pia, Look, 'Colour music: Composing paintings with colours as notes', pg. 34-37, Sydney, Jul 2008, 37 (colour illus.).

Donald Richardson, Art & Design in Australia, South Yarra, 1995.

John Rothenstein, London magazine, 'Roy de Maistre', pg. 32-37, London, Aug 1963, 34.

Bernard William Smith and Terry Smith, Australian painting 1788-1990, 'Leviticus 1913-32', pg. 167-204, South Melbourne, 1991, 191 (colour illus.). 111

Daniel Thomas AM (Curator), Project 14: Roy de Maistre 1894-1968, Sydney, 1976. 49; not paginated

Daniel Thomas, Sydney moderns: art for a new world, 'Foreword', pg. 11-12, Sydney, 2013, 11, 20 (colour illus.), 21, 22, 27, 46, 217, 312, 321.

Daniel Thomas, Grace Cossington Smith, 'Modernity and inwards', pg. 102-107, Canberra, 2005, 103.

Daniel Thomas., The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Painting's influence on literature', Sydney, 14 Sep 1976.

Daniel Thomas, Symposium papers: Colour in art - revisiting 1919 & R-Balson, 'Keynote address: Modern Australia: Colour in art 1910s-1950s', pg. 3-11, Sydney, 2008, 6, 10, 20.

Wayne Tunnicliffe and Deborah Edwards, The Sydney Morning Herald, ‘New Australia’, pg. 24-27, Sydney, 08 Dec 1997, 24.

Roland Wakelin, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Post Impressionism in Sydney: Some personal recollections', pg. 91-95, Sydney, Jan 1962, 92, 93 (illus.).

Anthony White, The Cambridge companion to Australian Art, 'Foreign natives: Australian Modernism 1915-1955', pg. 109-121, Port Melbourne, 2011, 111, 354. 9.2 (colour illus.)

Judith White, Look, 'Olympians of Australian art', pg. 16-18, Melbourne, Jul 2000, 18 (colour illus.).

J.F. Williams', Art and Australia, 'Modernism & the lost generation', pg. 52-57, Sydney, Spring 1991, 57 (colour illus.).

Grace Crowley's contribution to Australian modernism and geometric abstraction, Newcastle upon Tyne, 2010, 127.