Indigenous dispossession and settler colonial art galleries: Anguish at the National Gallery of Victoria

Kate Nichols*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Histories of settler colonial art galleries have tended to present these institutions as distant attempts to replicate British models. This essay argues that settler/Indigenous interactions, and the violent dispossession of Indigenous peoples, were fundamental to the formation of settler colonial art galleries, through a case study of the 1880s acquisition and reception of Danish painter A. F. A. Schenck's Anguish (1878) at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in Melbourne, on unceded land of the Kulin nation. Examining the career of the NGV's London art adviser, Alfred Taddy Thomson, from the violence of the colonial frontier in the 1840s, to his art advising practice in late nineteenth-century London, it demonstrates the ways in which frontier violence permeated the formation of British settler colonial cultural institutions. The acquisition and reception of Anguish provides a stimulus to rethink approaches to histories of settler colonial art galleries, and to European paintings in their collections.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-123
Number of pages23
JournalArt History
Volume46
Issue number1
Early online date1 Mar 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2023

Keywords

  • Essay
  • Essays

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