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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The New Arrivals at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art

1941
Russell Drysdale

pen and pencil on paper (30.2 cm x 50.3 cm)

Sir Russell Drysdale AC (1912-1981), painter, developed eye trouble in 1929, and had to leave boarding school for the first of many eye treatments which left him fearful of total blindness. He went to art school in 1935. In 1938 he took his family to Europe, and studied art in London and Paris, sharing a studio there with Peter Purves Smith, with whom he had gone to school. Having returned to Australia, over the course of the 1940s he produced a series of melancholy, foreboding works - including The Rabbiters, West Wyalong, The Drover's Wife, Sofala and The Cricketers - which not only laid down the terms of reference for most subsequent depictions of the landscape, but came to be seen as key representations of the Australian spiritual condition. In 1962 Drysdale's son took his own life; Drysdale's wife, inconsolable, did the same in 1963. In 1964 Drysdale and his second wife, Maisie, a lifelong friend, built a house in the Bouddi National Park, not far from Tallow Beach. A period of stability followed, and Drysdale was able to produce a further body of significant work over the next fifteen years.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Bequest of Lady Maisie Drysdale 2001
© Estate of Lady Maisie Drysdale

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Russell Drysdale (age 29 in 1941)

Peter Purves Smith (age 29 in 1941)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Donated by

The Estate of Lady Maisie Drysdale (2 portraits)

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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