Alexander SCHRAMM, Adelaide, a tribe of natives on the banks of the River Torrens Enlarge 1 /1

Alexander SCHRAMM

Berlin, Germany 1813 – Adelaide, South Australia, Australia 1864

  • Australia from 1849

Adelaide, a tribe of natives on the banks of the River Torrens 1850 Place made: Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, oil on canvas

Primary Insc: ' A. Schramm / Adelaide 1850 ' lower right
Dimensions: 86.7 h x 130.2 w cm framed (overall) 1115 h x 1535 w x 95 d mm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2005
Accession No: NGA 2005.216

Alexander Schramm was the leading oil painter in the colony of South Australia during the mid nineteenth century. He had an established reputation in Germany before emigrating to South Australia in 1849. He painted portraits of colonists, but most of his creative energy was devoted to depicting the Indigenous people of South Australia with great sympathy at a time when Europeans were destroying Indigenous tribal life. Schramm was also the first South Australian artist to depict the distinctive red river gum trees.

Adelaide, a tribe of natives on the banks of the river Torrens is Schramm’s largest known painting. It shows the Kaurna people, and possibly other local people, sheltering under characteristic straggly gums in Adelaide parkland. The narrative detail in this work is striking. Schramm depicted the Indigenous people dressed in shabby European cast-off clothing and engaged in activities from their daily life: sitting together in groups conversing, cooking over camp fires, interacting with pets (such as the young child riding a dog in the left-hand corner of the work) and climbing trees. The scene is bathed in a warm golden light.


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008

Alexander Schramm was the leading oil painter in the colony of South Australia during the mid-nineteenth century. He had an established reputation in Germany before immigrating to South Australia in 1849. He painted portraits of colonists, but most of his creative energy was devoted to depicting the Indigenous people of South Australia with great sympathy at a time when European settlement was impacting on Indigenous tribal life. Schramm was also the first South Australian artist to depict the distinctive red river gum trees.

Adelaide, a tribe of natives on the banks of the river Torrens is Schramm’s largest known painting. It shows the Kaurna people, and possibly other local people, sheltering under characteristic straggly gums in an Adelaide parkland. The narrative detail in this work is striking. Schramm depicted the Indigenous people dressed in shabby European cast-off clothing and engaged in activities from their daily life: sitting together and conversing in groups, cooking over camp fires, interacting with pets (such as the young child riding a dog in the left-hand corner of the work) and climbing trees. The scene is bathed in a warm golden light.


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2014
From: Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2014

Description

This is a painting by Australian colonial artist Alexander Schramm depicting the Kaurna people, sheltering under gum trees in Adelaide parkland. The painting is shown as an enlargeable image and in a video. Text onscreen gives information on Schramm’s life and practice as he is known for his sympathetic representation of Aboriginal people during colonial times. The video soundtrack provides visual analysis, discussing the narrative detail of the painting representing Aboriginal people immersed in their daily lives. The painting measures at 86.7 cm high x 130.2 cm wide and was painted with oil on canvas.

Educational value

  • This is an excellent resource for the Responding strand in the visual arts curriculum for students in the middle and upper primary school years, especially for those content descriptions that refer to considering the broader context of works of art, such as their social, cultural and historical context. It is also useful for content descriptions in the years 5 and 9 history curriculum that refer to aspects of the daily life of the inhabitants, including Aboriginal peoples and to the effects of contact between European settlers in Australia and Aboriginal peoples.
  • The work is of considerable significance for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures cross-curriculum priority. It exemplifies part of the second organising idea in relation to Aboriginal peoples: the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples can be viewed through historical, social and political lenses. The context of Alexander Schramm’s (1813-64) work and his choice of subject matter make this clear.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

This is Schramm's largest known painting. It shows the Kaurna Tribe sheltering among eucalypts in an Adelaide parkland. Schramm depicted Aboriginal people dressed in shabby European cast-off clothing and engaged in activities from their daily life: sitting together in groups and conversing, cooking over camp fires, a young child riding a dog and a man climbing a tree. Schramm emigrated in 1849 and painted portraits of colonists. However most of his creative energy was devoted to depicting the Indigenous people of South Australia with great sympathy at a time when their tribal life was being destroyed. He was also the first South Australian artist to depict the distinctive rRed River gum trees.


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra