Winifred Rumney / England/Australia c.1860 –c.1919 / Barron Falls 1906 / Oil on canvas / 128.9 x 86.2cm / Gift of the Agent-General for Queensland, London, 1971 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

Winifred Rumney
Barron Falls 1906

On Display: QAG, Gallery 10

Winifred Rumney painted Barron Falls in Queensland in the early part of the twentieth century, capturing the falls in minute detail. This large, powerful landscape painting reflects back on nineteenth-century Romanticism while also pointing to the eighteenth century fascination with the sublime, and the power of the forces of nature.

Barron Gorge National Park is a World Heritage Area near Cairns in Far North Queensland and part of the traditional lands of the Djabugandji Bama people who maintain a close spiritual connection with the country. The falls can be viewed from the historic scenic railway line which cuts through the park on its journey between Cairns and Kuranda.

Winifred Rumney, the daughter of a Scottish surgeon, Colonel RJ Quinnell, showed artistic promise from an early age. She studied freehand and model drawing at the College of Preceptors in London from 1884 to 1886, before attending the South Kensington School of Art from 1886 to 1887. She married Thomas Rumney shortly afterwards, and they moved to Queensland where she taught at the Sandgate Ladies’ College from 1890 to 1892.

Rumney visited Victoria and painted botanical scenes at the Melbourne Botanic Gardens, later travelling to Tasmania where she took lessons in ‘sky and foliage’ from Gladstone Eyre. By 1900 Rumney had returned to Queensland, living first in Rockhampton and then in Cairns where she taught painting at Cairns Technical College. While in Cairns, Rumney gave private painting classes and sold her canvases, depicting north Queensland scenes. Returning to Melbourne after her husband died in 1915, she continued to teach until about 1919.


Candice Bruce, ‘Rumney, Winifred’ in Joan Kerr (ed.), Heritage: The National Women’s Art Book: 500 Works By 500 Australian Women Artists From Colonial Times to 1955, Art and Australia; Roseville East, Sydney, 1995, p.433.