Full Record

Western Australian Museum and Art Gallery The new Guide
Record no:
There is a break in the original article in the paragraph preceding the section headed "Pottery."
Kept:Press clippings book 1, p. 85


The new guide to the Western Australian Museum and Art Gallery is a really
attractive publication, aspiring to a wider use than that of merely
furnishing the few particulars required by the visitor to such a place.

Indeed, in the desire to give the book a greater attractiveness, twenty-
five excellent plates of some of the chief art treasures are inserted. Mr.
Bernard Woodward, the director of the Museum, defines the intention of the
guide to be “to give a brief sketch of the history of the fine arts, with
especial reference to the examples in the Gallery, in the hope of inducing
my readers to take a deeper interest in the subject, and thus enable them
to derive greater pleasure from the contemplation of the sculpture and
paintings.” To this laudable work Mr. Woodward has brought the knowledge,
the cultured taste and the steady enthusiasm for which he is noted. In
many respects the whole result is satisfactory. Even the most superficial
reader can scarcely fail to get some information from a glance through the
sixty-eight pages, while the student must approve of the whole intention
of the work. This, too, in spite of the necessary difficulty which beset
Mr. Woodward in attempting to reconcile two such discordant things as a
guide to a gallery and a review of the fine arts. Indeed it may be thought
by some that he would have been wiser to dissociate the two by reducing
the list of numbers, titles, artists, dates, to the mere minimum of
description, and throwing the rest of the material into the form of one
consecutive article such as that with which he starts his description of
art. In future editions there may be considerable rearrangement, and some
errors which have crept into the guide may be rectified. Baron von
Mueller, for instance, was not director of the Melbourne Botanical Gardens
until his death in 1896, but ceased connection with them some score of
years earlier. By a somewhat extraordinary confusion of the older Disraeli
with his greater son, Lord Beaconsfield, the life of the latter is given
as extending from 1767 to 1846. There are several minor, but annoying,
misprints, such as “Giralamo” instead of Girolamo Savonarola, which should
not disfigure such a publication. The typographical display regarding the
drawings from the royal collection at Windsor seems out of keeping of the
rest of the guide.

Mr. Woodward has exercised the right of private judgment in his comments,
and this adds agreeable spice to what might otherwise be too conventional
descriptions. But there seems some lack of consistency. Sir J. D. Linton's
picture of the abdication of Mary Queen of Scots is illustrated and given
a whole page of sympathetic description. “The Tambour Frame,” by S. Melton
Fisher, is illustrated, but has no accompanying description. Several
pictures have half a page of description and are not illustrated, and one,
“The Little Fruit Girl,” by J. H. S. Mann, is condemned contemptuously in
the words “A picture of the ‘pretty, pretty’ amateur type, instructive to
students as showing what to avoid.” On such a description it might well be
claimed that the picture should excluded from a gallery one of whose
functions is the cultivation of the public taste. Perhaps the most novel
part of guide are the descriptions of the statues and panels, as these
convey less meaning to the average visitor than do the paintings. Here
again, however, it is not clear why Perseus and Pericles should be
described and Theseus allowed to remain a mere name. Mr. Woodward, no
doubt, has reason for saying that the backward-glancing Perseus is looking
back towards the pursuing Gorgons, though the opinion is often expressed
that he is simply averting his face from the deadly head of Medusa with
its petrifying power. While Mr. Woodward may have laid himself open to
criticism at such points, there is no doubt that the guide was much
required, and that the director has given it a character and an interest
seldom associated with such productions.

[article continues] … of the public. One or two potteries in this State
are turning out very good works in tiles, and some of the commoner kinds
of terra-cotta, and will shortly be doing work of a higher class. Let us
then commence with the pottery exhibits.


“This is the oldest of the crafts. The making of pottery dates back to a
very early period, far beyond the reach of historical records. In the
Mosaic writings, the potter and his work are honourably mentioned and at
an early period the Egyptians made their beautiful ware. Glazed bricks
have been found in the ruins of Babylon. The potter’s wheel, of which an
example will be on exhibition very shortly, is the oldest machine in the
world, and the photograph we have on view shows one almost identical in
form and shape with those represented on the Assyrian and Egyptian
monuments. The old wheels were turned by the hand ; the modern ones are
worked by a treadle, or by a fly-wheel, rotated either by human agency or
by power. These samples of raw materials have just been received from my
brother, Mr. Horace B. Woodward, F.R.S., Assistant Director of the
Geological Survey of Great Britain. They show clays in the rough, and as
prepared for the making of stoneware, earthenware, and china. Any quantity
of china clay is waiting in Western Australia, and there will be plenty of
openings here for the students who go in for this work. A pottery class
will shortly be established in the Technical Schools on St. George’s
Terrace. We have already in the Museum examples of pottery from the
earliest times to the present day. I may mention that the designs in
English china have improved very much of late, and some of the specimens
we have here are not surpassed, if equalled, by Dresden china ware. You
may have noticed this china on the lower shelf of a glass case by the
entrance, while on the upper shelves are some very beautiful designs, both
as to colour and form, from the Della Robbia Works, and on the cups and
plates presented by Messrs. Brown, Westhead, Moore, and Co., of the Royal
Cauldon Potters, Staffordshire.”

Messrs. Doulton’s well-known contributions to the Museum then received
attention ; but as these have already been described at considerable
length in the “West Australian,” Mr. Woodward passed on to a large series
of exhibits showing different kinds of English, Continental, and Eastern
potteries. “We desire to show the public all possible shapes and colours,”
continued Mr. Woodward, “so that they may learn what to select and what to
avoid ; and the labels in many cases point out the good and the bad points
in the designs. Some of the simplest pottery shows the best art. Look at
these pots from Ceylon, for instance. Some are 2,000 years old, others
modern, but they are perfectly adapted to the ends their designers and
makers had in view. Our collection is not very large, but it includes many
types. In addition to those already mentioned, we have ancient Egyptian
pottery from Thebes, ancient Greek and Graeco-Roman ware, as well as
examples of the crudest Central African. Specimens of modern Italian,
Spanish, German, Bohemian, and Flanders pottery are all represented in our
collection. From China there is but a single specimen, but we have a whole
series of Japanese from the Imperial Museum at Tokio.”
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