Russell Drysdale / Australia 1912–81 / Back verandah 1942 / Oil on composition board / 40.8 x 51cm / Gift of Captain Neil McEacharn, Italy 1954 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © QAGOMA

Russell Drysdale
Back verandah 1942

Not Currently on Display

Russell Drysdale’s most powerful landscapes will often have a human presence. Sidney Nolan described Drysdale as ‘the most genuinely Australian of all of us’. The presence of people animates a landscape, which becomes a theatre of epic proportions that impacts on, defines and reflects human values.

Russell Drysdale was born in England in 1912 to a family that had a long association with Australia’s pastoral history. As a child, Drysdale travelled to Australia twice, visiting his uncle at ‘Pioneer’, a sugar plantation that the family had owned since 1889, in the northern Queensland town of Ayr. In 1923, his parents settled in Melbourne, and later acquired ‘Boxwood Park’, a sheep station in the Riverina region of New South Wales.

In 1931, Drysdale attended the George Bell Art School in Melbourne, where he was introduced to the European modern masters; the following year, he travelled to Europe to study the originals. Venetian paintings were also an important influence on his work.

On his return to Australia, Drysdale decided to make painting his career and studied at the Bell-Shore School from 1935 to 1938. George Bell was the ideal teacher for Drysdale and gave him a deep understanding of the material, structural and design aspects of painting.

Discussion Questions

The back verandah appears to be an important space for this family. How has Drysdale conveyed this?

Classroom Activities

Is there a special place in your family’s house? Use photography, painting or drawing to showcase your family in this special place. Display and discuss.

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