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Elegance in exile

Portrait drawings from colonial Australia

Daily from Friday 1 June 2012 until Sunday 26 August 2012

Elegance in exile is an exhibition surveying the work of Richard Read senior, Thomas Bock, Thomas Griffiths Wainewright and Charles Rodius: four artists who, though exiled to Australia as convicts, created many of the most significant and elegant portraits of the colonial period.

An exhibition of sixty beautiful and rarely-seen drawings, watercolours and miniatures, Elegance in exile will examine the interplay of art, biography and history in their work, tracing the links between their own lives and those of their sitters to present a fine and vivid map of life, culture and aspirations in colonial Australia.

The artists Richard Reed senior, Thomas Bock, Thomas Griffiths Wainewright and Charles Rodius are recognised today for the portraits they created in the first half of the nineteenth century. Exiled to Australia as convicts, they produced some of the most elegant and significant Australian portraits of the period. The drawings, watercolours, sketches, prints and miniatures examined in Elegance in Exile encompass the stories of Indigenous leaders, governors, explorers, administrators and gentry, as well as colonists of less illustrious or ex-convict stock.

A fine and vivid record of Australian colonial life, society and identity, Elegance in Exile examines the conditions under which these artists practised, exploring patronage of the arts in colonial Sydney and Hobart and profiles the pre-eminence of drawing and printmaking in the early years of the visual arts in Australia.

10 portraits

1Martha Sarah Butler, c. 1845. 2Edward Paine Butler, c. 1845. Both Thomas Griffiths Wainewright.
Elegance in exile tour dates

Originally shown at the National Portrait Gallery
Friday 1st June until Sunday 26th August 2012

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery

Saturday 15th September until Sunday 4th November 2012

© National Portrait Gallery 2019
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia


Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196
The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Ngunnawal people, the traditional custodians of the land upon which the NPG stands.