Geelong Gallery's outstanding collection of paintings, sculpture and decorative arts spans the art of Australia from the colonial period to the present day. Frederick McCubbin's masterpiece "A Bush Burial" was acquired four years after the Gallery's establishment in 1896. Since then, the Gallery has amassed a magnificent collection of 19th and 20th century Australian and European paintings. Interspersed throughout the nine galleries are exhibitions of works on paper and decorative arts including 18th and 19th century English porcelain, British art pottery, colonial Australian silver, as well as contemporary Australian paintings, sculpture, ceramics and studio glass.
This collection is located in the Geelong Gallery, one of Australia's oldest and leading regional art galleries. The collection includes Australian and international paintings, works on paper, sculpture and decorative arts. The greatest strengths of the Gallery's permanent collection are colonial through to early twentieth century Australian paintings such as such as Eugene von Guerard's iconic “View of Geelong” (1856), Frederick McCubbin's “A bush burial” (1890), and Arthur Streeton's “Ocean blue, Lorne” (1921); an extensive array of early painted, drawn, photographed and printed images of Geelong and its wider region, as well as historical events, including William Duke's “Geelong from Mr Hiatt's, Barrabool Hills” (1851), John Skinner Prout's lithograph “Geelong” (1847), Eugene von Guerard's “Mr Levien's hut on the Barwon” (1860), Alexander Webb's “Yarra Street, Geelong” (1872). Other notable works include late 19th century photographs by Fred Kruger and Thomas J Washbourne, Blamire Young's “Buckley acting as interpreter at Indented Head” (1901), James Northfield's travel poster “Geelong, Victoria, Australia” (1930s); colonial metalwork including Edward Fischer's “Geelong gold cup” (1890); an extensive collection of English painted porcelain from 1750 to 1850 such as Worcester's “Buckingham Palace card tray” (c. 1840-45), and a comprehensive collection of fine porcelain from Ireland's Belleek factory; works on paper (19th century to the present) including a focus on Australian printmaking, and select holdings of contemporary Australian photography. Modern and contemporary Australian paintings include works by Fred Williams, John Brack, Ann Thomson, Peter Booth, Juan Davila, Rosalie Gascoigne, John Nixon, Jan Senbergs, Stephen Bush, Melinda Harper, and Sam Leach. The smaller but no less fine holdings of British and European paintings include “The pier head” (1910) by Alexander Stanhope Forbes, “The Babylonian maid” (1883) by Edwin Long, “Reading the Bible” (1840-45) by Thomas Faed, and “On the Thames” (1878) by Benjamin Leader. The print collection ranges widely across British and European (largely historical) as well as Australian works (historical to contemporary), with significant holdings of artist’s books and contemporary prints (many of which have been acquired through the Gallery's series of acquisitive print awards). A group of mostly smaller-scale sculptures includes maquettes for Inge King's “Forward surge” (1972-73) and Geoffrey Bartlett's “Messenger” (1982). Other notable works are Brett Whiteley's “Pelican” (1983), Ron Robertson-Swann's “Putting on the Ritz” (1978) and a group of major bronzes from the early 1980s by Robert Klippel.
This collection represents the cultural aspirations of one of Australia's most important regional cities. It includes Australian works from colonial times to the present in a variety of media, as well as important British and European works chiefly from the mid-18th to late 19th centuries.