Albert Namatjira (1902-59) Australia (Aboriginal)

Biographical Information

Albert Namatjira was the first aboriginal to achieve recognition for his art and the world looked with renewed interest at his people and their skills as a result.

He was a pure-blood from the Arunta (or Aranda) Tribe. in Central Australia, born in 1902 at the Hermannsburg Mission which was begun by Lutheran missionaries in 1877.

His superb paintings depict the beautiful mountain ranges, river valleys, gum trees and red sand hills that are unique to the Central Australian landscape and home of the Arunta Tribe.

He was introduced to the art of watercolour painting by Rex Battarbee, a noted watercolourist and teacher.

He first exhibited in 1938 in the Fine Arts Society's Gallery, Melbourne which was opened by Lady Huntingfield, wife of the Governor of Victoria.

The 41 watercolours sold out at between 1 - 6 guineas each.

In 1939, the South Australian Society of Arts Gallery, Adelaide exhibited 41 watercolours which also sold out at up to 8 guineas each.

His third exhibition in Melbourne in 1944 fetched a staggering £800 with individual pieces fetching 10-35 guineas.

In 1945, the Anthony Hordern's Art Gallery sold another 44 paintings for £1000 and all but one painting had sold within 20 minutes of Professor A. P. Elkin opening the exhibition.

In 1948 commercial picture theatres throughout Australia were featuring a documentary entitled Namatjira the Painter. As art speaks all languages, the success of Albert, his sons and other artists from the Hermannsburg School has given them worldwide prestige and appreciation.

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Market Information

Finke River Mission and Mount Hermannsburg, Northern Territory
Highest Price:
Finke River Mission and Mount Hermannsburg, Northern Territory
Watercolour over pencil on paper, 47.7 x 83.5 cm
Important Australian Art, Sotheby's, Sydney.
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 Total number soldNumber with imagesHighest priceRecent average price*
Works on Paper916651A$122,000 A$25,361
Prints & Graphics33A$164 N/A
Objects9353A$42,000 N/A

* Calculated on sales over the last three years, where there are a sufficient number of sales over that period.

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