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Benjamin Duterrau: a grand contradiction


Lehman, G, Benjamin Duterrau: a grand contradiction, Art Monthly Australia Ltd, Australia, 304 Summer 2017-2018, pp. 52-55. (2017) [Magazine Article]

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DOI: doi:10.3316/INFORMIT.240972975317763


Articulating an understanding of, or interpreting a picture can be 'an untidy and lively affair',1 especially if, in doing so, we also seek to explain the past. The treatment to date by several Australian historians of the little known, but highly significant painting The Conciliation illustrates historian Michael Baxandall's point well. Produced in the British colony of Van Diemen's Land by the minor artist Benjamin Duterrau following his arrival in 1832, the picture is today recognised by the Museum of Australian Democracy as the country's first historical epic painting, and one of the nation's founding documents. Such recognition might be expected to indicate that a detailed art historical analysis has been made of the picture; not simply to confirm its 'first' status, but also to explicate its meaning and significance as a key statement in the foundational narrative of the Australian nation. Yet, while there has been some energetic discussion of the painting's significance and interpretation, with few exceptions, the investigation of its content and influences has been less rigorous.

Item Details

Item Type:Magazine Article
Research Division:Indigenous Studies
Research Group:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, society and community
Research Field:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sociology
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Understanding past societies
Objective Field:Understanding Australia's past
UTAS Author:Lehman, G (Professor Gregory Lehman)
ID Code:145736
Year Published:2017
Deposited By:Aboriginal Engagement
Deposited On:2021-08-04
Last Modified:2021-08-04

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