MEDIA RELEASE – 11 August 2010

 Robert Dowling: Tasmanian son of Empire. 24 July – 3 October 2010

PLEASE NOTE: Amendment to exhibition end date. Information was recently sent out to media with the incorrect date for the end of this exhibition. Robert Dowling: Tasmanian son of Empire will close at the National Gallery of Australia on 3 October 2010, not 30 October as previously stated.

A whole program of exhibitions and special events will celebrate the ‘Opening Season’ at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, commencing with Robert Dowling: Tasmanian son of Empire. The exhibition is the first retrospective of Australia?s first major colonial-trained professional artist, Robert Dowling (1827–1886). Dowling was Australia?s most successful portrait and figure painter when he returned to Australia in the mid 1880s yet surprisingly he remains little known today.

The exhibition curator and author of the first book dedicated to the work of Dowling, John Jones said, “Robert Dowling: Tasmanian son of Empire is the culmination of many years of research discovering and tracking down lost works held in collections all over Australia and overseas.”

In his research for the Robert Dowling exhibition, John Jones has made exciting discoveries. For example, his investigations have helped reinstate the attribution to Dowling of one the artist’s finest works, Breakfasting out 1859, Dowling’s first Royal Academy exhibition success. The Museum of London acquired the painting in the 1950s bearing the false signature of the better-known English artist Charles Hunt and the false date of 1881. Similarly, at the British Museum Jones? research has reclaimed for Dowling a group of the artist’s paintings of Indigenous Australians that had been incorrectly attributed to fellow Australian artist Thomas Bock.

The exhibition will be complemented by a completely new display in the early Australian colonial gallery dedicated to Tasmanian colonial art from the late 1820s to the mid 1850s.

Comprising more than 70 works borrowed from London, New Zealand and around Australia, Robert Dowling: Tasmanian son of Empire brings to light one of the most significant artists of the late-colonial period and demonstrates the sheer diversity of Dowling?s oeuvre during his 36-year career.

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