Visions of a Republic: the Work of Lucien Henry

3 April 2001- 14 October 2001

Visitors to to this exhibition were able to discover the extraordinary life, work and legacy of French-Australian artist Lucien Henry (1850-96), one of the most influential and inspiring artists in Sydney in the late 1800s, in a major centenary of Federation exhibition.

A radical French republican, Henry produced the most comprehensive Australian imagery for public monuments, statues, buildings and interiors in the years preceding Federation. Two of his most spectacular works, the stained-glass windows in the Sydney Town Hall, are still visible today.

This exhibition explored the artist’s remarkable life. From Paris, where as a young art student he played a leading role in the 1871 Paris Commune; to Noumea, where he was exiled on the French penal colony of New Caledonia for six years; to Sydney where he became the first lecturer in art at Sydney Technical College.

On display for the first time were Henry’s 100 brilliant watercolour designs, as well as paintings, sculpture and works by his French contemporaries Paul Gauguin and Gustave Courbet. A selection of ceramics, stained glass, furniture and jewellery by Australian artists and designers revealed the legacy of this exceptional artist.

Visions of a republic: the work of Lucien Henry was endorsed and presented in association with the New South Wales Centenary of Federation program in 2001.

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