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Thomas Walkley

(Two Swagmen at Sundown,)
Oil on board
signed and dated, T Walkley 04 lower left original gilt frame
22.0 x 43.0 cm

$4,000.00 including GST

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Comments: The painting depicts two swagmen, possibly a father and a son, with their dog, as they optimistically approach a wealthy-looking properties at sundown. As sundowners they will be too late for work but will no doubt be seeking shelter for the night. It is a quintessential Australian image by an accomplished amateur artist who appears to have been itinerant himself. The little that is currently known about the artist Thomas Walkley is largely drawn from the titles of his paintings, produced over a period of about 25 years, and some references in a few contemporaneous newspapers. One of Walkley’s paintings, titled End of Day, Perth Quarry, which sold at a Perth Auction in 2012 for $12650, (GFL Fine Art Auction, 04/12/2012, lot No. 63), was dated by the auctioneer as c1880. If this is correct then it is Walkley’s earliest known painting. It certainly means that he painted in Perth. In 1897 there are newspaper reports that T. Walkley was working as a scene painter with Kalgoolie’s Tivoli Gardens theatre (see Kalgoolie Miner, Monday, 26 July 1897 and Saturday, 14 August 1897). A group of watercolours of Perth subjects, two of which were dated 1917, were sold at a Leonard Joel auction (Melbourne, 23/05/1979, Lot No. 643). While Walkley is known to have travelled widely it may be that he was primarily a Western Australian artist. A watercolour titled A View of the City of Adelaide and the Surrounding Hills, (which sold for $8,250, Du Plessis Galleries, Adelaide, 20/10/1996, Lot No. 84) was dated 1892. In this year Walkley was not only in South Australia but was also painting in Victoria. The South Australian Register of 19 December 1892 reports that “T. Walkley, Esq” had given instructions for a group of his paintings to be sold at auction: “EIGHT CHOICE WATER COLOURS OF AUSTRALIAN SCENERY”. Some were Adelaide subjects and the others were Victorian, including scenes of Gippsland and Mount Riddle. On 10 October, 1894, the Hobart Mercury reported that a Melbourne artist, Mr. T. Walkley, has completed an oil painting, which it is the owner's intention to have hung in the gallery reserved for similar works of art at the Hobart Exhibition. The subject, enclosed in a 4ft. x 3ft. massive gilt frame, is a view of Hobart… Two paintings have appeared at auction which support the claim that Walkley was considered a Melbourne artist at this time. The watercolour Boating on the River Yarra, at Richmond, Near Burnley 1894, was offered at Leonard Joel (Melbourne, 19/03/2013, lot No. 123) and About Healsville, an oil that was dated 1901, was offered by Sotheby’s (Melbourne, 21/04/1986, Lot No. 134).

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