SUMMER, 1957- 59

Important Australian + International Fine Art
30 November 2011


(1893 - 1964)
SUMMER, 1957- 59

oil, pen and ink on canvas

64.0 x 81.0 cm

signed lower right: Godfrey Miller

$65,000 - 85,000
Sold for $180,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 23 - 30 November 2011, Melbourne

Macquarie Galleries, Sydney
Private collection, Sydney


Godfrey Miller Retrospective Exhibition, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 10 June – 17 July 1959
Easter collection, Macquarie Galleries, Sydney, 6–25 May 1960
Recent Australian Painting, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, June – July 1961, cat. 25 (label attached verso)
Godfrey Miller Memorial Exhibition, Darlinghurst Galleries, Sydney, 16 February – 27 March 1965
The Private Collector, a loan exhibition from twenty-five Sydney Collections, Darlinghurst Galleries, Sydney, September 1965
50 years of the National School of Art, a retrospective exhibition of major artworks by past students and staff of the National Art School, Bonython Gallery, Sydney, June 1974
Godfrey Miller 1893 – 1964, retrospective exhibition, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney,15 March – 5 May 1996, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 15 May – 17 June 1996 (label attached verso)


Henshaw, J., Godfrey Miller, Darlinghurst Galleries, Sydney, 1965, pl. 39 (illus.)
Edwards, D., Godfrey Miller, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1996, pp. 76, 78, 124, p. 168 (illus.)

Catalogue text

Godfrey Miller, Ian Fairweather and Roger Kemp hold an unrivalled place in Australian art. Each the master of a unique vision, in their work they share the contemplative and that simplicity of complexity in paintings that touch upon the universal. They move seamlessly between figuration and abstraction. In his serene landscapes, still-lifes and nudes Miller clothed ideas in the semblance of reality. Miller wrote - 'Launching, placing and keeping things in their relationship and actively maintaining their several and separate natures - is the work of the creative person.'Of 'Unity', in the same pamphlet he quoted Francis Thompson 'Thou canst not stir a Flower / Without the troubling of a star'. It took many years for his paintings to evolve and achieve a state of completion that met his satisfaction. While his technique was demanding, his intellectual, philosophical, and intuitive requirements were greater. This can be readily seen in the Nude and the Moon 1954-58 (collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales), from the nude and moon series, and Still Life, Fruit and Flower 1957-61 from the collection of James Fairfax- dazzling works where visual splendour vies with depth of content for attention. Summer  1957-59, being one of his great late works, belongs in such august company. Sumptuous of colour and rainbow magnificence, faceted like a mosaic, the influence of his early training as an architect, work as a sculpture, and love of the art of Paul Klee is apparent. Through its blend of reality and abstraction Summer radiates light, transcending the season of the sun in its exploration  interrelationship and universality of all things. While the journey from his gentle and atmospheric landscapes of Warrandyte of the 1920s was immense, Summer shares the crown of his creative journey.

During 1960-64 Miller painted a related work also titled Summer, allied to our painting in composition and ideas. Of this painting, John Henshaw wrote, 'The relationships of cosmic and earthly life are no better expressed in his entire oeuvre than in 'Summer'.'2 He described it as 'a pristine landscape of earth's childhood before the Fall, and ...a world that could also be'. 'Unity here [he continued] is nothing less than analogy for the unity of being ...'. Our painting has the added interest of the journey, the delving leading to attainment, richer in colour and denser in space. Like all these analytical landscapes, it shares a monumental structure with surface tension and synthesis, achieved with a detachment that is characteristic of his remarkable and unique vision.

1. Miller, G., 'From a printed pamphlet written by Godfrey Miller', in Henshaw, J., Godfrey Miller, Darlinghurst Galleries, Sydney, 1965, no pagination
2. Henshaw, op. cit.