NSW Art Gallery, Sydney #9
The Offerings of Peace by Gilbert Bayes (England 1872–1953).
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Cast in London and installed in 1926.
The inscription reads: 'The real and lasting victories are those of peace and not of war.'
Peace offers the Arts and Plenty, which is represented by Greek comic and tragic masks, a lyre and some fruits.
The Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), located in The Domain in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, was established in 1897 and is the most important public gallery in Sydney and the fourth largest in Australia.
Admission is free to the general exhibition space, which displays Australian (from settlement to contemporary), European and Asian art.
In 1895, the new Colonial Architect, Walter Liberty Vernon (1846–1914), was given the assignment to construct a gallery. As a temporary measure, John Horbury Hunt, a private architect, had designed a small brick structure, built in 1885, to temporarily house the collection. This building, which was dwarfed by the new gallery when it opened in 1897, remained to the rear of the new gallery until it was demolished in 1969 to make way for the extensions.
The first two picture galleries were opened in 1897 and a further two in 1899. A watercolour gallery was added in 1901 and in 1902 the Grand Oval Lobby was completed.
In 1958, the gallery was renamed The Art Gallery of New South Wales under a new act of that name.
In 1968, the New South Wales Government decided that the gallery would be extended as a major part of the Captain Cook Bicentenary celebrations. As a result, the "Captain Cook wing" was built and opened to public in November 1970. New gallery space was provided in five storeys behind the original classical façade, increasing the racking space to 1.25 linear kilometres, with a new café, a sculpture courtyard and administrative offices. The extensions were designed by Andrew Andersons of PTW Architects and constructed of grey rough concrete.
More recently, as part of the "Open Museum" project, sculptures have been positioned along the entry road. On 23 October 2003 a new Asian Arts wing was opened. It was designed by Sydney architect Richard Johnson and included alterations to the original Asian gallery, a new temporary exhibition space above the Art Gallery’s entrance foyer, new conservation studios, a café, a restaurant and dedicated function area. In 2003 the gallery also extended its opening hours until 9pm on Wednesday nights.
Although the majority of Vernon's buildings are in the Arts and Crafts style, the 1897 building was built in a conservative classical tradition.
The facade has a central block with extending wings each terminating in a bow-fronted colonnaded pavilion. The central block is marked by a Neo-Classical portico with six columns of the Ionic order, the penultimate example of the neo-Greek temple as a portico for a major public institution in Sydney, the last being Vernon's building of similar design for the nearby State Library of New South Wales.
It was built of Sydney sandstone (yellowblock) from the Saunders quarries at Pyrmont.
The windowless wings and end pavilions are emblazoned along the cornice with the names of old master painters and sculptors. In a series of panels beneath, are an incomplete set of bronze relief sculptures by a range of different sculptors and symbolising the contribution to art by ancient civilisations. Those complete show significant scenes in the art history of Rome, Greece, Assyria and Egypt.
The portico leads into a vestibule designed by James Barnet, and reportedly "derived from Raphael's Villa Madama in Rome (c. 1520). The design and detailing of the cornices and arches of the foyer are described as" especially fine and unusual".
The foyer is illuminated by a leadlight dome, and has niches in the walls containing a collection of sculptured busts.
The older rooms of the gallery extend to the right of the foyer, and have been maintained in late-19th century style, to display the gallery's collection of early European, 19th century and Australian Impressionist works. The later extensions to the building are on five levels and contain a central long gallery giving access to other parts of the building, multi-purpose and specialised exhibition spaces, services such as lifts and escalators, restaurants, shops, terraces, a sculpture garden and windows with extended views of the harbour.