Arthur BOYD, The hunter I Enlarge 1 /1

Arthur BOYD

Murrumbeena, Victoria, Australia 1920 – Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 1999

  • England, Australia, Italy from 1959

The hunter I 1944 Place made: Open Country, Murrumbeena, Victoria, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, oil on cotton gauze on cardboard Support: cotton gauze on cardboard

Primary Insc: signed lower right, in oil "A Boyd", not dated
Tertiary Insc: AB250 Hayward Gallery, London, 19 May to 14 August 1988 exhibition label verso, Tate Liverpool label verso, Angry Penguins and Realist Painting in Melbourne in the 1940s Royal Academy of Arts, London, Australia, 21 Sept – 8 Dec 2013, label verso
Dimensions: 63.6 h x 75.8 w cm framed (overall) 760 h x 880 w x 70 d mm
Acknowledgement: The Arthur Boyd Gift, 1975
Accession No: NGA 75.3.15
Subject: Collection: The Arthur Boyd gift of his paintings, prints and drawings, 1975.

Arthur Boyd’s paintings during the Second World War reflect the personal turmoil he experienced at the time and his deep opposition to violence. Boyd was conscripted into the army in May 1941 and discharged in March 1944. His paintings from the war years include expressionistic images of human dislocation and suffering; images of crippled, grotesque figures in the streets of St Kilda and South Melbourne. In 1944 he completed a series of dark, dramatic paintings of figures in the Australian bush. The landscapes in these paintings, including The hunter I, were inspired by places in Victoria that Boyd had visited while on leave from the army, including the upper reaches of the Yarra, Launching Place, Warburton and Woods Point.1

In The hunter I Boyd has used private symbols to create an image of personal despair and anxiety. He portrayed the hunter as an exposed and vulnerable figure, naked with closed eyes. As if trapped or lost in the dense, straggly bush the hunter appears to be both part of the landscape and alien within it. Approached by the horned ram (a symbol of lust and corruption in Boyd’s work) the hunter attempts to flee,
his extended arm a seemingly futile gesture.

1 Barry Pearce, Arthur Boyd retrospective, Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1993, p.16.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra