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Australian art

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Down the hills to Berry's Bay



Roland Wakelin


1887 - 1971


It was about the year 1913 that the first glimmerings of what is now called 'modern art' came to us in Sydney ... Colour was the thing it seemed - vibrating colour, and there were new ideas in composition - unorthodox ... We commenced to heighten our colour, working in stippling touches, and to make severe cubistic drawings.

Roland Wakelin, 1928

With its broken brushstrokes of pure vibrating colour, this painting reveals Roland Wakelin's admiration for E Phillips Fox's painting 'The ferry', and for the modernist approach of the post-impressionists encouraged by his teacher Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo. The simplified form and accentuated arabesque of the shoreline foreshadow the earliest abstract paintings in Australia. Wakelin's radical approach however caused a furore among the Royal Art Society's hanging committee in 1916.

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Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas on hardboard


68.0 x 122.0 cm board; 64.0 x 118.6 cm sight; 81.4 x 136.0 x 5.3 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. corner, blue oil "R.S.WAKELIN. 1916".


Purchased 1961


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Roland Wakelin

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 11 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 25 publications


Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Sydney, 1972, 97 (colour illus.).

Emma Collerton, Look, 'A passionate artist and teacher', pg. 46, Sydney, May 2011, 46.

Douglas Dundas, Roland Wakelin retrospective, 'Introduction', pg. 3-6, Sydney, 1967, 4, 7. 6

Mary Eagle, Australian Modern Painting Between the Wars 1914-1939, 'Light in Sydney', pg. 30-41, Sydney, 1989, 2 (colour illus.), 32, 33, 209. title page

Deborah Edwards, Sydney moderns: art for a new world, 'Colour, light and rhythm: tools for modernity', pg. 21-33, Sydney, 2013, 21, 24, 28 (colour illus.), 42, 317.

Deborah Edwards, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Moderns', pg. 103-104, Sydney, 2000, 103, 106 (colour illus.), 302.

Sarah Engledow, Portrait (no.28), 'Lovers of light', pg. 16-21, Canberra, Winter 2008, 17.

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 133 (colour illus.).

Heather Johnson, Parallel visions: works from the Australian collection, 'Roy de Maistre / Roland Wakelin', pg. 48-59, Sydney, 2002, 48, 55 (colour illus.), 146, 147.

Hendrik Kolenberg, Lloyd Rees Drawings - Centenary Retrospective, 'Introduction', pg. 7-19, Sydney, 1995, 8.

Macquarie Galleries, Pioneer contemporaries: Roy de Maistre, Grace Cossington Smith, Roland Wakelin, Sydney, 1960. 25; dated 1917

Ewen McDonald, AGNSW Collections, 'From Colonialism to late Modernism', pg. 7-106, Sydney, 1994, 30 (colour illus.).

Sandra McGrath, Sydney Harbour Paintings from 1794, Milton, 1979, 54 (colour illus.).

Barry Pearce, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian', pg. 13-35, Sydney, 1988, 21, 22 (colour illus.).

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, 16 (colour illus.). 1

Barry Pearce, Fifteen decades of Australian paintings, Sydney, 1981, (colour illus.).

Royal Art Society of New South Wales, Royal Art Society of New South Wales 37th annual exhibition (1916), Sydney, 1916, 15. 75; price: 75 guineas

Bernard William Smith and Terry Smith, Australian painting 1788-1990, 'Leviticus 1913-32', pg. 167-204, South Melbourne, 1991, 174 (illus.), 560, 574. plate no. 100

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

Daniel Thomas., Sydney Harbour, ‘Introduction', Sydney, 1963. 31

Roland Wakelin, Art and Australia, 'Recollections of a Post-Impressionist', pg. 290-291, Sydney, Mar 1967, 291.

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

Leslie Walton, The art of Roland Wakelin, 'Early influences', pg. 12-16, Sydney, 1987, 13, 15, 40 (colour illus.). plate no. 7

Donald Williams, In our own image: the story of Australian art, Sydney, 1995, 100 (colour illus.).

Project 41 - the mosaic, the grid, Sydney, 1983, 2.