‘A lady so long deceased’: The death of the historical muse in australian painting, 1880-1911

Matthew C. Potter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter challenges the view that historical painting was irrelevant in Australia during the long nineteenth century. The historiographical reasons for this oversight are examined alongside the use of history by historians such as George William Rusden and George Arnold Wood to curate a discrete national spirit. These writers presented Liberal ideals familiar to Britons in the UK and Australia. Against this context, the artworks of Emanuel Phillips Fox, John Longstaff, Artur Jose Loureiro, and William Strutt produced between 1892 and 1911 are reconsidered, as are their representions of the lives and deaths of James Cook, Robert O’Hara Burke, and William John Wills. The artistic decisions and activities undertaken in composing these images, their institutional frameworks, and their critical reception are examined in order to consider these works as complex engagements with the alternative imaginative and documentary functions that were proposed for historical art in the nineteenth century.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRepresenting the Past in the Art of the Long Nineteenth Century
Subtitle of host publicationHistoricism, Postmodernism, and Internationalism
EditorsMatthew C. Potter
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9781351004176
ISBN (Print)9781138544352
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2021

Publication series

NameRoutledge Research in Art History

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