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Albert Namatjira

Two hand-painted Woomeras - c.1940

watercolour over pencil on hardwood
67 x 15 cm 72.5 x 12
Price Realised: $7,000.00

MP #554


Provenance

Aboriginal Handicraft, Hermannsburg, NT
Deutscher & Hackett, Important Aboriginal + Oceanic Art, Melbourne, June 2011, Lot No. 51
Private Collection, NSW

Two hand-painted woomeras. The first depicting a Ghost Gum, the second the Macdonnell Ranges. Each with a wooden peg attached with sinew and a spinifex resin handle, one signed lower right: Albert Namatjira. Both inscribed verso, Aboriginal Handicraft / Hermannsburg / Central Australia and bearing a painted image of a goanna.

The Hermannsburg Mission was established by Lutheran missionaries in 1877 on the banks of the Finke River, west of Alice Springs. From 1894 it was overseen by Pastor Carl Strehlow. Albert Namatjira was born and grew up there. He was introduced to the Western style of painting in the early 1930s by visiting artists Rex Battarbee and John Gardner.

In response to increasing tourist numbers after the extension of the railway to Alice Springs in 1929, the Arrernte people at Hermannsburg were encouraged to make a range of souvenirs for visitors. Between the 1930s and 1950s they sold everything from needlework and religious decorative items to artefacts including spear throwers, boomerangs and spears.