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Albert Namatjira

Western MacDonnell Landscape - c.1950

watercolour over pencil on paper
36 x 54 cm
Price Realised: $73,200.00

MP #610


Private Collection, NSW
Thence by descent, ACT

36 x 54 cm
65 x 81 cm (frame)

Albert Namatjira began painting in the early 1930s. By the time of his death almost thirty years later, his romantic depictions of the Western MacDonnell Ranges, Mount Sonder, and the surrounding desert had become synonymous with our collective vision of the Australian outback,

Namatjira was able to capture the subtleties of colour as the desert changes from the soft tones of summer heat to the rich hues of the early morning and late evening light. The majority of his paintings lack a central focal point, with visual emphasis on the edges holding the composition in balance. His watercolours typically capture the high colouring of the desert landscape, the gorges and valleys of the country of his birth, and his Dreaming. Interestingly, Namatjira painted most of his desert country from an elevated point of view, as if looking down, ever so slightly on the landscape.

Following his early success, he took a number of other Aranda artists, including his sons Enos and Oscar and the three Pareroultja brothers, on his painting expeditions with him. They spawned a movement of naturalistic watercolours in the European tradition of classical landscape painting. The movement, termed the Hermannsberg school – the name of the Lutheran church mission station where Albert was born, was the first significant transitional art movement to emerge from Aboriginal Australia.