McClelland’s Permanent Collections
When the McClelland Gallery opened in 1971, its collection consisted of 138 works of art, 71 through the bequest of The McClelland Estate with the remaining works gifted by artists and collectors. McClelland’s collection now consists of over 2,200 works of art encompassing historical, modern and contemporary sculpture, paintings, photography, works-on-paper and decorative arts dating from the 19th Century to present day.
Unique aspects of the collection include the Orde Poynton Bequest of 155 works including East Asian decorative arts, and over one hundred 19th Century English watercolours from the Maurice Callow collection, the largest collection of Herbert Rose paintings and prints held in a public collection, and paintings and works on paper from the collection of John Farmer, Sir Daryl and Lady Lindsay, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch AO DBE, Dr Joseph Brown AO OBE, Kenneth Hood and Antoinette Niven amongst many other generous donors.
Highlights include paintings by Rupert Bunny, Emmanuel Phillips Fox, Hilda Rix Nicholas, W. B McInnes, Max Meldrum and his followers and a large collection of works on paper of George Bell and his school.
The McClelland Estate
The McClelland Gallery+Sculpture Park was opened in 1971 under the terms of the will of Annie May (Nan) McClelland in honour of her brother Harry McClelland. Both Nan and Harry took an active part in the cultural life of Melbourne and played an instrumental role in the development of the arts community in Victoria. They gathered around them a circle of fellow artists, writers, musicians and art lovers. Harry was an artist in his own right, and built a stone studio, small cottage and a dam on his Langwarrin property, now known as the McClelland Sculpture Park+Gallery.
Approximately 95 items were bequeathed to the Gallery from the Estate of Annie May McClelland in 1969 including historical items from the McClelland home as decorative arts objects, paintings, watercolours, prints and furniture.
From the source of the McClelland Estate came 33 paintings and drawings by Harry McClelland as well as the 1930 Archibald prize winning Portrait of Harry McClelland (Drum-major Harry McClelland) c1929 by W B McInnes (pictured) and portraits of Nan McClelland and Eleanor McClelland by Ernst Buckmaster.
The Fornari Bequest
In 1980 from the Estate of Mrs Lena Fornari, McClelland Gallery was bequeathed a collection of works by Herbert Rose, and under the terms of her will, that a major part of her estate should be invested and the interest made available for the purchase of works on paper and paintings of Australian artists.
The Fornari Bequest became active in 1982 and has since accumulated over 100 works purchased
for the permanent collection. The first acquisition being a watercolour of colonial artist, John Skinner Prout’s View from north shore, Sydney c1850. Later purchases include Louis Buvelot’s Lilydale towards Yarra Flats, 1880 and watercolours by Arthur Merrick Boyd, David Davies and Nicholas Chevalier.
Recent purchases by contemporary painters include David Wadelton, collaborative duo Lyndel Brown & Charles Green and Andrew Browne. Photographic purchases of Pat Brassington, Rosemary Laing, Bill Henson, Patricia Piccinini, Anne Zahalka and Janet Laurence have also been acquired and complement the burgeoning contemporary collection with works dating from the 1960’s to present.
The M W Callow Collection
The addition of over one hundred 19th Century English watercolours and prints add enormously to the depth and scope of the collection. Victorian based collector and founding member of the Old Victorian Watercolour Society, Maurice W Callow presented a quarter of these to McClelland Gallery in 1982, with the remaining works purchased through anonymous funds. In 1987 Maurice W Callow added ten more watercolours and etchings to this collection.
Included in the collection of watercolours are lithographs by noted English artists, James Duffield Harding, Thomas Shotter Boys and Thomas Rowlandson and in addition, the collection includes works by John Constable, John Cotman, David Cox, Peter De Wint, Samuel Prout and Augustus Pugin.
The Orde Poynton Collection
In 1982, Dr Orde Poynton (1906–2001) made a major donation of 155 items from his personal collection to the McClelland Gallery, mostly items of East Asian origin, with the majority being work in cloisonnè and bronze. Many of the objects are Japanese and date from the Meji era (1868-1912).
Also featured in the collection are etchings by Rembrandt and English artist James Whistler, as well as some detailed Renaissance and Baroque engravings. An engraving by Albrecht Durer of St George, dated 1508 and monogrammed in plate, is one of the highlights of the collection which includes engravings by S.T. Gill as well as oils and watercolours by English and Australian artists, including Charles Conder and Max Meldrum.
The John Farmer Collection
Artist, John Farmer (b. Australia 1897-1989) was a significant benefactor and patron of the McClelland Gallery. Initially gifting over 40 works to the Gallery at its inception in 1971, of which included an extensive selection of etchings and several paintings by the artist, along with paintings by his wife Polly Hurry and important works by Max Meldrum and his associates including Colin Colahan, Ernest Newbury, Edward Kimpton, Harley Griffiths, Clairce Beckett and Justice Jorgensen. The gift also provided a representation of a small but important group of 19th Century Japanese, French and English prints.
The Kenneth Hood Collection
In 2002 a significant bequest of 59 works was presented from the Estate of Kenneth Hood. The bequest includes 26 works-on-paper of his own work and the drawings and prints of his friends and associates. Featured artists, amongst many others, are Justin O’Brien, Donald Friend, Constance Stokes, Fred Williams and Michael Shannon.
The Indoor Sculpture Collection
McClelland Gallery holds an important and comprehensive collection of Australian sculpture dating from the mid 1800’s through to present day.
Presenting the history of Australian sculpture has developed as a point of interest for the collection policy and has been a major collecting focus for the Gallery showing significant development over the past 35 years. The Gallery now holds over 200 sculptures in its indoor collection.
The earliest examples of Australian sculpture represented in the collection are mid-19th century portrait medallions by English born sculptor Thomas Woolner an architectural relief panel of John Simpson Mackennal, the greatly documented The cloud c1906 by Charles Douglas Richardson and a significant body of works by Australia’s most internationally successful artist of the 19th century, figurative sculptor Bertram Mackennal.
Over the past few decades, the internal sculpture collection has strengthened in the representation of the Centre 5 group of artists and includes multiple examples of the individual artists within this group. Also greatly represented is an impressive group of works by Clement Meadmore that well document the artist’s oeuvre from the early welded works through to the later work of simplified monolithic forms. Recent acquisitions of major contemporary statements in Australian sculpture include the monumental Ron Mueck Wild man 2005 and Patricia Piccinini’s Doubting Thomas 2005.