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Herbert Raberaba

174 Career Overall Rank

90 2020 Market Rank

  • Born: 1921 - 1980
  • Active: 1955-

  • Region: Central Desert, NT
  • Community: Hermannsburg
  • Language: Western Arrernte

A detailed market analysis will be available shortly.

Herbert Raberaba’s watercolours drew attention for their subtle colouring and attentive rendering of the changing light across the rocky outcrops and tree-filled gorges around the mission town of Hermannsberg. Albert Namatjira had encouraged both Herbert and his brother Henoch, (who were both his tribal brothers), showing their work to his painting mentor Rex Battarbee. Battarbee was impressed, commenting that the Raberaba brothers had now found now their true work in life. Henoch had only just returned from trying his hand as a stockman, a tough and demanding life, often requiring long periods distant from family and friends. Life for the Arrernte people was cruel and difficult since the coming of European settlers to the Australian centre. Pastoralists and gold seekers had flooded into the region, including the small town of Stuart (that later became Alice Springs). The Aboriginal people were excluded from their traditional lands and were ravaged by sickness and starvation. Often they were reduced to begging beside the newly constructed railway from Adelaide. Miraculously, painting had opened a channel for both survival and wider attention. This was mostly due to the genius of Albert Namatjira, followed soon after by his fellow Arrernte watercolour painters. 

A gentle and sensitive approach to his subject made Herbert popular with passing tourists who were keen to buy directly from the artist. Herbert divided the regular sized format (30 x 40 inch) into half size. This was popular with bus travellers and Herbert was obligingly prolific as he honed his skills and responded to requests. As word spread however, this arrangement was soon disrupted, though never entirely, by the Hermannsberg Mission’s Art Advisory Council who insisted upon the regularity of saving a wage that could support a family in the European manner. The artists, they complained, spent their money immediately, often siphoned off by relatives who had done none of the work involved. Tension ensued. In 1951, Rex and Bernice Battarbee took over the art management roles and established the Aranda Arts Council. It paid its artists a weekly wage. Herbert Raberaba was amongst this initial group. He was now recognized as a professional artist and though he never achieved the fame and prices that Namatjira was receiving by then, he was included in nation-wide exhibitions that drew national attention to Aboriginal art as well as their living plight.

Though disagreements about payment were never fully resolved, other issues came to the fore as mid-century art critics argued publicly over the emerging Hermannsberg watercolourists. Some suggested that the mastery of European style technique was simply a demonstration of the success of assimilationist government policies and not what might be considered authentic. Others (of more modern bent) recognised a skill and sensibility that was unique, challenging popular stereotypes and affirming the taste of discerning art lovers. As Alison French has written in her revision of the genre, these artists created a uniquely Australian alternative to the inherited and largely unsuited pastoral vision of landscape. The artists were crafting in visual form a deeply felt knowledge and love of their own Country, akin to the personal feeling for one’s own body. They had absorbed introduced techniques and materials but imbued them with their own relationship to the land, peeling away the layers of habitual landscape appreciation. They demonstrated a closeness and feeling for the land that many European newcomers responded to with interest and enthusiasm. The Hermannsberg School continues to develop and evolve today, with Herbert Raberaba revered still as one of its originating members. 


Profile author: Sophie Pierce

Profile References

French, A. 2002. Seeing the Centre: The Art of Albert Namatjira 1902-1959. Australia. National Gallery of Australia.
Batterbee, Rex & Bernice. 1971. Modern Aboriginal Painting. Adelaide. Rigby.


Finke River, MacDonnell Ranges




Watercolour Paints on Board

Regional Map

Note: This map is a representation and not accurate. Some sites are sacred and therefore not shown.

Market Performance

Career Totals

AIAM100 Rank
AIAM100 Rating
Clearance Rate
Average Price
Total Price
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
0.2798 0.3078 0.1370 0.3331 0.6672 0.1616 0.2953 0.1348 0.2680 0.1646 0.3532 0.1128 0.2965 0.0607 0.0742 0.0438 0.1442 0.1171 0.1045 0.1698 0.0000
14/17 12/13 7/7 15/15 27/29 7/13 10/11 6/7 10/12 6/9 13/15 5/6 9/12 3/9 4/4 2/3 6/6 5/8 5/7 7/10 0/0
$400 $658 $383 $493 $611 $533 $872 $505 $718 $753 $738 $509 $1,085 $409 $344 $480 $577 $549 $437 $588 $0
Yearly Market Performance Graph from 2000 - 2020

Top 10 Artworks Sold at Auction


Untitled (Central Australian Landscape) (1960)

sale price: $3,600.00
auction: Sotheby's Australia, Melbourne  lot: 74 date: 05/06/2012
54.5 x 75.5 cm Watercolour and pencil

Untitled (Central Australian Landscape) (1960)

sale price: $3,360.00
auction: Sotheby's Australia, Melbourne  lot: 88 date: 05/06/2012
37.5 x 55 cm; 37.5 x Watercolour and pencil

Ghost Gums

sale price: $2,330.00
auction: Leonard Joel Pty. Ltd., Melbourne  lot: 286 date: 10/05/2004
35 x 51 cm Watercolour

Central Australian Landscape

sale price: $2,070.00
auction: Theodore Bruce Auctions, Adelaide  lot: 82 date: 14/03/2010
34 x 52 cm Watercolour

Rockface and Gums

sale price: $2,035.00
auction: Elder Fine Art, Adelaide  lot: 184 date: 06/08/2006
48 x 72 cm Watercolour


sale price: $1,955.00
auction: GFL Fine Art, Perth  lot: 107 date: 01/12/2009
52 x 73 cm Watercolour

Fink River Gorge, at Entrance to Glen Helen (Circa 1950),

sale price: $1,800.00
auction: Sotheby's Australia, Sydney  lot: 126 date: 30/11/2010
17 x 32 cm Watercolour and pencil on artist board signed 'Herbert Raberaba' lower right

Central Australian Landscape

sale price: $1,650.00
auction: GFL Fine Art, Perth  lot: 185 date: 25/05/2004
48 x 72 cm Watercolour


sale price: $1,500.00
auction: Leonard Joel Pty. Ltd., Melbourne  lot: 209 date: 21/07/2008
36.6 x 24 cm Watercolour over pencil on paper

Ellery's Creek 1954

sale price: $1,500.00
auction: Leonard Joel Pty. Ltd., Melbourne  lot: 210 date: 21/07/2008
25.5 x 36.5 cm (unfr Watercolour over pencil on paper

Available Artworks

Sorry There are currently no artworks available for this artist.