Faculty of ArtsAustralian Institute of Art History

Offshore: Australian Art Collectors Abroad

Dean's Lecture

Presented by Gerry Higgins Professorial Fellow Gerard Vaughan

27 March 6:30pm

Old Arts - Public Lecture Theatre [PLT]
University of Melbourne

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The lecture will examine a group of significant art collections formed in London in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Australian millionaires. It will concentrate on George McCulloch of Melbourne, one of the founders of BHP, who filled his London house with one of the most esteemed collections of contemporary British and French art to be found at the end of the century; on William Knox d’ Arcy, the Mt Morgan gold king from Rockhampton, who went on to become effectively  the founder of the modern oil industry in the Middle East, a significant collector who became William Morris’s last major client; and on George Salting of Sydney, whose bequest of Old Masters to the London National Gallery remains the most important single gift it has ever received. Only a handful of the extraordinary artworks amassed using income largely derived from the mining industry in Australia found their way back to Australia, and these were mainly through purchase.

The lecture will also examine the collecting activities of several Australians resident in France who were open to modernism, from John Peter Russell to Louise Hanson-Dyer, and will conclude with some brief observations regarding non-Australian art collectors who chose to make collections of contemporary Australian art, especially Indigenous, such as John Kluge of Virginia, once described as the richest man in the world.

Gerard Vaughan is the Gerry Higgins Professorial Fellow, attached to the Australian Institute of Art History. He is a graduate of Melbourne University,  and subsequently undertook doctoral studies at Oxford under the supervision of Francis Haskell. From 1994-9 he served as inaugural Director of the British Museum Development Trust,  returning to Melbourne in 1999 to become Director of the National Gallery of Victoria, from which he retired last year. He has had a lifelong interest in the history of taste and art collecting, both private and institutional, and is currently preparing a history of private art collecting in Australia for Melbourne University Press.






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