Item #127243 Loading Grain. Robert Emerson CURTIS.
Loading Grain
CURTIS, Robert Emerson (1898-1996)

Loading Grain

An original painting (watercolour and black ink), matted, framed and glazed (visible image size 180 × 190 mm), initialled in pencil in the bottom right-hand corner.

This striking image (presumably from the 1930s) features numerous symbols of heavy industry - steam trains, silos, a ship, the elevated loading spout pouring out grain - with the powerfully-built plant operator imposed in front of all of them. It may have been a study for a mural; a lightly pencilled X over the finished work suggests it may have been rejected by the artist.

Robert Emerson Curtis (1898-1996), English-born Australian artist, architectural draftsman, camouflage officer, and official war artist, emigrated to Queensland in 1914. In 1922 he 'travelled to the USA with his great friend, the pioneer filmmaker, Charles Chauvel. There he developed what was to become a lifelong interest in industrial modernism and on returning to Sydney in 1928 he set about documenting the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.... He painted murals and did industrial illustration in 1932-38, including the series "Australia at Work", which was syndicated in Australian newspapers.... During WWII Curtis recorded working life in the Commonwealth Munition factories (1939-41), worked as Camouflage Officer in Australia and with the RAAF in New Guinea (1941-43), until he was finally appointed an official war artist to record the nation's industrial war-time production (1943-45). More than 200 works are in the Australian War Memorial (AWM) collection' (Design & Art Australia Online).

Item #127243