Sydney LONG, Pan Enlarge 1 /1

Sydney LONG

Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia 1871 – London, England 1955

  • England, Europe 1910-21
  • Australia 1921- 22
  • England 1922-25
  • Australia 1925-52
  • England from 1952

Pan 1919 Place made: London, Greater London, England
Materials & Technique: prints, ink; paper line-etching and aquatint, printed in black ink, from one copper plate Support: thick smooth cream wove paper
Manufacturer's Mark: no manufacturer's mark
Edition State: published state
Impression: 2/30
Edition: edition of 30

Primary Insc: signed lower right below plate-mark in black pencil, 'Sydney Long.' titled lower left corner of sheet in black pencil, 'PAN'. inscribed with edition details lower left below plate-mark in black pencil, '2/30'. inscribed lower left corner of sheet in black pencil, 'aquatint [underlined]'.
Secondary Insc: no inscriptions.
Tertiary Insc: stamped verso centre left in black ink, '14961 [runs vertically]'. inscribed verso centre left in black pencil, '2 frames ['ames' underlined] 19 1/2 + 17'. inscribed verso lower centre to lower right in black pencil, 'W.O.Paul'. inscribed verso lower centre in black pencil, '5 1/2 wide [inverted]'.
Dimensions: plate-mark 27.8 h x 41.5 w cm sheet 35.8 h x 95.0 w cm
Acknowledgement: The Oscar Paul Collection, Gift of Henriette von Dallwitz and of Richard Paul in honour of his father 1965.
Accession No: NGA 65.136
Subject: Australia, Art style: Painter-etchers 1860s-1938
Image rights: Reproduced with the kind permission of the Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia
  • The Oscar Paul Collection.
  • Bequest to the Commonwealth Art Advisory Board (C.A.A.B.), from Mrs Henriette von Dallwitz legatee of Richard Paul after reinbursement to estate, to fulfill Richard Paul's intentions to honour his father, May 1965.

Playing a flute-like instrument, a naked figure leads a flock of birds in a synchronised, rhythmic formation towards a group of sinuous gum trees. The moon has just risen and the face of the spirit is thrown into silhouette. An aura of mystery surrounds the scene.

Painted whilst Long was in London, this work is a variation of his The spirit of theplains painted 17 years earlier in 1897 (now in the Queensland Art Gallery). This later work has been simplified, with fewer trees in the background, one less brolga and not as much detail in the foreground foliage.

Whilst in London, Long studied etching at London Central School, producing prints of Australian flora, fauna and landscapes, as well as interpretations of some of his earlier paintings such as The spirit of the plains and Pan. With these wistful, lyrical images, he made his modest British reputation as a printmaker.

Born in Goulburn, Long was taught by Julian Ashton and, while still a student, achieved early success when the Art Gallery of New South Wales purchased his Tranquil waters 1894. The first in a series of idylls featuring naked youth in the Australian landscape, Tranquil waters caused a sensation in the 1890s because its morality was questioned by the press and parliament. However, the nudity as depicted in The spirit of the plains and Pan was considered acceptable and the painting was appreciated for the way it contributed to the development of a specifically Australian mythology.

Ron Ramsey

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002