submitted by Peter Bouras on 30.07.2005
(1950) Vaucluse, Sydney
oil on canvas
99.0 x 76.2 cm
inscribed in purple paint l.r.:
Eminent Australian artist, Russell Drysdale's attempt to capture the quintissential nature of the Greek-Australian woman in Australian country towns.
"It's a curious fact that the alien Greek café keeper has became a symbol of the Australian country town - whenever ones goes out west there is always 'the dagoe's' to eat in. The majority of them I've always found are hard working, honest people, with courage to work and save and give their children a better way of life in a new land. I've tried to express something of the solidity of that attitude in Maria - I did not necessarily want to make her beautiful in the sense that beauty nowadays too often takes form from cosmetic advertisements - I wanted to give her strength and a quality of endurance, qualities which make it possible to overcome hardship, heat and loneliness, and make and found a home and family in a new environment. Perhaps there is beauty in that - all these people go to make a nation, they are part of the future."
(Letter from Drysdale to Sir Keith Murdoch, 10 January 1952, private collection).
Maria provides a companion to Joe. (See next entry, at kythera-family).
Both figures impassively watch the street of a country town from the verandah and window of a café. The gaze is almost hypnotic and shows no anxiety or restlessness.
The paintings are reunited for the first time since 1960.
An Australian Broadcasting Corporation and National Gallery of Victoria Collaboration
© 1999 ABC and NGV
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