An Art History of Australia
Art has been created in Australia for a long, long time. The traditions of Aboriginal art date back 40,000 years. The art produced by early European settlers tended to follow the European canon. Over time, the impact of living on this land and in its particular culture, have resulted in unique contributions to art practice.
Established in 1884, the Art Gallery of Ballarat is the oldest and largest regional gallery in Australia. It was founded by a group of citizens, the most important was undoubtedly James Oddie, known at the time as the “Father of Ballarat”. Oddie was one of the first gold diggers to arrive in Ballarat and stayed to make a fortune as a real estate agent and subsequently as a banker. He remained a major benefactor of the gallery throughout his life.
The gallery has a significant collection of artwork acquired over the last 120 years. As you walk through the gallery Australian history unfolds before your eyes.
Here you will find a selection of artworks from the gallery’s earliest acquisitions through to its most current - from landscape artist Eugene von Guerard and Aboriginal artist William Barrack, to Australian impressionists Tom Roberts, Emanuel Phillips Fox and George Bell, to modernist Grace Crawley, realist Jeffery Smart and contemporary artists Jon Cattapan and Lorraine Connelly Northey.
A short video featuring interviews with gallery staff about key works in the collection brings Australian art history to life.