This painting was created in response to Vincent Namatjira's visit to the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art in 2014 to see his great-grandfather Albert Namatjira's works. Vincent was deeply moved by William Dargie's portrait of Albert, which won the Archibald Prize in 1956, and he made sketches of himself in front of the portrait during his visit.
Vincent subsequently submitted his self-portrait to the Archibald Prize in 2014. It was rejected.
This painting is now part of the permanent collection of the QAGOMA. QAGOMA holds one of the largest collections of material on Albert Namatjira and his descendents.
Vincent Namatjira has depicted Captain James Cook, the famous British explorer who travelled extensively throughout the Pacific Ocean and is acknowledged as discovering Australia. Namatjira has portrayed Cook in the act of signing the declaration which claimed Australia as a British acquisition and colony.
“The aboriginal people who saw that First Fleet landing would have been confused to see people in big boats coming onto their beaches, putting up a flag, and wearing such strange clothes. It would have looked quite funny to them, like something really cheeky was happening. In this picture I wanted to paint Captain Cook when he was signing the Declaration – this was such an important event for Australia’s history. But I’ve tried to let the picture tell a little joke, back then nobody would have understood what he was signing anyway.” - Vincent Namatjira.
Vincent Namatjira, the grandson of the legendary water colourist, Albert Namatjira (1902-1959), has painted a portrait of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to commemorate their first visit to Adelaide in April, 2014.
Vincent wanted to mark the occasion of the Duke and Duchess’s visit by creating a portrait of the young, modern couple in a relaxed mood. The historical links between the Namatjira family and the Royal Family go back to the 1950s when Albert and the Queen met.
Albert was the first Aboriginal Australian to be presented to Her Majesty, and he was awarded the Queen’s Coronation Medal in 1953 for his contribution to painting. The Queen holds examples of Albert Namatjira’s water colours in her collection. In 1957 he became the first Aborigine to become an Australian Citizen.
Namatjira says, “My painting is a personal acknowledgement of the Queen’s award to my grandfather, Albert. This is from one grandson to the other, a sign of friendship and respect, to Prince William, his wife Catherine and baby George. I am happy William and Catherine have come to South Australia. I hope one day I can shake his hand, like my grandfather shook the Queen’s.”
Vincent Namatjira’s fascination with Captain Cook started on a school excursion in Fremantle to the HMB Endeavour. While aboard the ship, he began to wonder what kind of adventurous man Cook must have been. At that moment, he realised that Cook was the beginning of our shared history in Australia.
Vincent Namatjira spent his early years at Hermannsburg, where his famous grandfather, Albert Namatjira, learnt to paint. This landscape is of the western McDonnell ranges that surround Hermannsburg – a subject that Albert painted often.
One of Vincent Namatjira’s main themes is the life of his famous grandfather, Albert Namatjira. This is a scene painted from imagination of Albert painting with Rex Batterbee, the artist who taught Albert water colour painting.
Vincent Namatjira has depicted former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard with her partner Tim Mathieson. Namatjira is a keen observer of current affairs, which often find expression in his portraits of high profile leaders from around the world.