Media office

Archives 2010
Archives 2009
Archives 2008
Archives 2007
Archives 2006
Archives 2005
Archives 2004
Archives 2003
Archives 2002
Archives 2001
Archives 2000
Les Sauvages De La Mer Pacifique
This seventh exhibition in the Art Gallery's Australian Collection Focus Series addresses a visually spectacular and fascinating work – the panoramic wallpaper Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique.

The wallpaper was manufactured in the French town of Mâcon during the early 19th century, and it is the oldest large-scale work in the Gallery's Australian Art collection. It was inspired by the voyages to the Pacific by explorers such as Jean François Galaup de la Pérouse and James Cook, which caught the imagination of the public in many parts of Europe.

Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique is a frieze-like panorama able to surround the viewer with the vision of distant and exotic lands. The neo-classical depiction of the 'South Seas' in a mythical golden age incorporates a compilation of scenes, depicting people from diverse places, all unified within a lush landscape.

Nearly 40 sets, or fragments, of Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique are known to remain. In recent decades several sets have been acquired within the Pacific region, including this work purchased in 1989 for the Art Gallery of New South Wales through funding from the Art Gallery Society, reflecting a renewed interest in wallpaper during the post-colonial era.

Curated by Vivienne Webb, this exhibition explores this multi-faceted work within both its European and Pacific contexts. Included is visually splendid Pacific clothing from the same period as the wallpaper, providing a dramatic contrast to the European traditions. Also on display are the sources and supporting material for the wallpaper which place it within its European context, including contemporaneous costume designs and engravings illustrating the accounts of the European voyages of discovery.

Accompanying this exhibition is an extensive focus publication, produced in conjunction with the National Gallery of Australia, which includes a complete translation into English of the promotional prospectus produced by the manufacturer in 1804–05.

The Australian Collection Focus Series is generously sponsored by ABN AMRO Rothschild. The Series addresses a significant work or works in the Art Gallery's collection and presents to the public comprehensive curatorial evaluation of the work including the results of recent research.

On view:Saturday 5 February to Sunday 12 June 2000
Art Gallery of New South Wales Art Gallery Road
The Domain, Sydney
Telephone:(02) 9225 1744 or recorded information
(02) 9225 1790
Hours:Daily 10am to 5pm (closed Easter Friday)
Admission:Free of charge
Media Information and Interviews:Jan Batten:
Press Office
Telephone: (02) 9233 1213 or (0418) 279 348
Facsimile: 61 2 9221 3185

images available on request