The gatekeeper's wife

Russell DRYSDALE: artist

Not On Display

About the work

In 1944, the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper commissioned Russell Drysdale to draw and record the devastation of the drought in New South Wales. The toughness of this rural landscape and the impact it had on the people living there impressed Drysdale so deeply that it became one of the principal subjects of his work throughout his lifetime.

Between 1957 and 1965, Drysdale toured through Central and Western Australia. The gatekeeper's wife was painted at the end of this period. Paintings such as this were a departure from his landscape paintings of an earlier period where his thin shadowy and elongated figures were dwarfed by the empty landscape. In The gatekeepers wife we see a shift as the woman and child become the most important aspect of the painting, with their monumentality - strongly reminiscent of the work of Henry Moore - filling the foreground. In this way, Drysdale gives greater gravity to the lives of his subjects.
The gatekeeper's wife
Artist/Maker and role
Russell DRYSDALE: artist
oil on canvas
100.3 x 125.7 cm (sight)
119.0 x 144.5 cm (frame)
Credit line
Purchased 1965
The State Art Collection, The Art Gallery of Western Australia
Accession number

This is one of the paintings in our collection.