Roy DE MAISTRE, New Atlantis Enlarge 1 /1

Roy DE MAISTRE

Bowral, New South Wales, Australia 1894 – London, England 1968

  • England, France 1923-26
  • England, France from 1929

New Atlantis c.1933 Place made: London, Greater London, England
Materials & Technique: paintings, oil and scraffito on canvas

Primary Insc: signed lower left ' R de Maistre. ' (underlined)
Dimensions: 135.5 h x 153.0 w cm framed (overall) 1380 h x 1540 w x 40 d mm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2006
Accession No: NGA 2006.387
Image rights: © Caroline de Mestre Walker

Roy de Maistre’s New Atlantis is an exceptional work in its painterly and conceptual daring and sophistication. Painted after he migrated from Australia to England, this is an ambitious extension of his earlier work and conveys his broad, ongoing interest in modernism.

In the early 1930s de Maistre shared his interests in modernist ideas with the young British artist Francis Bacon, whose studio provided the basis for New Atlantis. Early in his career Bacon had worked as an interior designer. In 1932 he designed a large round mirror that is most likely the one that appears so prominently in New Atlantis. On either side of the room images of paintings (probably by Bacon) lean against the walls. The vertical divide of the doorway anchors the animated composition, while the linear figure in the dark space adds a mysterious dimension to the stage-like arena.

The title New Atlantis drew upon utopian, spiritual ideas for a new world order. These were expressed in a journal of the same name, edited by art historian and philosopher Dimitrije Mitrinovic, who initially commissioned this painting for himself. As a combination of aspects of modernist art practice and philosophical beliefs, New Atlantis is testimony to a spirit of the times.


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

Roy de Maistre’s New Atlantis is an exceptional work in its painterly and conceptual daring and sophistication. Painted after he migrated from Australia to England, this is an ambitious extension of his earlier work and conveys his broad, ongoing interest in Modernism.

In the early 1930s de Maistre shared his interests in modernist ideas with the young British artist Francis Bacon, whose studio provided the basis for New Atlantis. Early in his career Bacon had worked as an interior designer. In 1932 he designed a large round mirror that is most likely the one that appears so prominently in New Atlantis. On either side of the room images of paintings (probably by Bacon) lean against the walls. The vertical divide of the doorway anchors the animated composition, while the linear figure in the dark space adds a mysterious dimension to the stage-like arena.

The title New Atlantis drew upon utopian, spiritual ideas for a new world order. These were expressed in a journal of the same name, edited by art historian and philosopher Dimitrije Mitrinovic, who initially commissioned this painting for himself. As a combination of aspects of modernist art practice and philosophical beliefs, New Atlantis is testimony to a spirit of the times.


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