We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


The fish stealer



John Passmore


04 Feb 1904 – 09 Oct 1984

  • Details

    Media category
    Materials used
    oil on hardboard
    41.0 x 85.0 cm board; 58.5 x 102.0 x 2.3 cm
    Signature & date

    Signed l.r., oil "JP".

    Bequest of Carlyle Greenwell 1961
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © John Passmore Museum of Art

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    John Passmore

    Works in the collection


  • About

    "By the end of 1953 Passmore's gestures were getting broader. His paint, no longer applied in crisp washes of green, thickened. Though by no means aggressive, it assumed a distinct physicality. Beneath the surface, the influence of Tintoretto was beginning to emerge. Chiaroscuro, much abstracted, appeared. Such are the more obvious characteristics of a series of paintings of boys and fishermen on wharves, piers, and beaches. These images were projected with the same meditative totality as his still-lifes. The quarrelling figures in 'Fish stealer', or the informal yet energetic grouping of 'If you don't believe me ask the old bloke', do not read as human dramas. Fishermen, air, pier, and water are all concretions of the same nameless substance, subtly knit together. Postures are deliberately clumsy and angular, the bodies are lumpish. Passmore's line, with muffled eloquence, runs forward, stops, thickens, gropes, turns a corner, and fades again. The awkward figures repeat the ungraceful carriage of most Australians: more important, however, their gawkiness is a deliberate guard against too florid or fluent a gesture of the brush."

    Robert Hughes, 'The Art of Australia', Penguin, 1966

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 6 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 6 publications

Other works by John Passmore

See all 36 works