What we don’t know about Australian colonial furniture

A talk by John McPhee | Thursday 21 February 6 - 7:15PM

Two armchair (from a suite)* * * SOLD OUT * * *

How many sideboards did Governor Macquarie own? Why can we not identify more colonial cabinetmakers? Where did exotic timbers for stringing or gilded slips come from? Can we be certain it is cedar? Could that chair be Indian?

Our knowledge of colonial cabinetmaking is small. There are more questions than answers, and it sometimes seems that much will remain unknown. Being aware of what we do not know puts us in a stronger position to look at colonial furniture with clear eyes.

This lecture will consider the history of colonial furniture scholarship, and examine some of the problems that still puzzle us.

jmcphee (cropped)


John McPhee is an art historian. He was the founding Curator of Australian decorative arts and then Senior Curator at the National Gallery of Australia, 1980-1992, and Deputy Director at the National Gallery of Victoria, 1992-1996. He is the author of books on John Glover and Joseph Lycett. He has been responsible for many exhibitions of Australian decorative arts and in 2004 curated Red cedar in Australia for the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales.


Tickets $25 (includes a glass of wine on arrival)

Limited free parking available onsite.

* * * SOLD OUT * * *

Top image: Two armchairs (part of suite); wood (cedar), cane. probably India, c. 1825. Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection.

Bottom image: Dining room, Denholm, Gordon, home of Mr and Mrs John Berry. Photographer, Harold Cazneaux, illustrated in The Home, March 1923.


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