In the winter of 1936, Rex Battarbee provided Albert Namatjira with two months watercolour tuition while on a journey into the heart of the tribal land of the Western Aranda. Albert Namatjira offered Battarbee his services as 'camel boy in return for painting lessons'.
Work is almost certainly from the 1937 exhibition catalogue No.38 Valley in James Range. Back has a faint title ames Range? Oral history accompanying this work is that it displays aspects of tuition by Battarbee of Namatjira e.g. foreground, middle ground & back ground display two different individual brush techniques of both Battarbee & Namatjira. Also perspective, sky wash, hills & colouring are presented in a stiff tuition form atypical of other Battarbee works from this trip. All techniques clearly had a lasting influence on Albert Namatjira's work. Albert also produced later works of this James Range subject .The treatment of the ranges is very reminiscent of the later Albert technique as taught by Battarbee.
Battarbee was amazed at the rapid progress of his pupil. At first he encouraged him to draw with crayons on scraps of cardboard, but Albert was anxious to learn and within a fortnight had advanced to watercolours and produced a picture of his own initiative. Battarbee later noted that 'Albert quickly understood the rules of perspective, composition, and the way of seeing colour and setting down on paper. He understood and utilised the fundamentals of art that had taken some people many years to learn.'
This Rex Battarbee 1936 water colour painting of the Central Australian Landscape represents an historic important & absolutely seminal work for Battarbee, Namatjira & the Hermannsburg School.
39cm X 32cm.
Condition very good & is still very bright, unfaded with little foxing. Painting will clean readily by restorer or preparators & present in original fresh condition.
Albert Namatjira with Axel Poignant and Rex Battarbee, 1946
"The spectacular scenery of Central Australia, then entering the national consciousness as a symbol of Australian identity, attracted artists to Hermannsburg, among them Rex Battarbee and John Gardner. During their second visit in 1934 they held an exhibition for an Aboriginal audience. The Arrernte were familiar with illustrations of biblical scenes, but none had seen landscapes depicting their own surroundings. Motivated by a deep attachment to his country and the possibility of a vocation that offered financial return, Namatjira expressed an interest in learning to paint. In 1936 he accompanied Battarbee as a cameleer on two month-long excursions in and around the Macdonnell Ranges. Battarbee was impressed by his evident talent. In the following year Pastor Friedrich Albrecht, the superintendent of Hermannsburg, displayed ten of Namatjira's watercolours at a Lutheran conference held at Nuriootpa, South Australia. Battarbee included another three of his water-colours in an exhibition with the Royal South Australian Society of Arts, Adelaide."