Albert Namatjira

Art on This Day
Albert Namatjira, one of Australia’s great artists, and perhaps the best known Aboriginal painter, died on this day in 1959 aged 57.
Namatjira’s richly detailed, Western art-influenced watercolours of the outback departed significantly from the abstract designs and symbols of traditional Aboriginal art, and inspired the Hermannsburg School of painting. He became a household name in Australia—indeed, reproductions of his works hung in many homes throughout the nation—and he was publicly regarded as a model Aborigine who had succeeded in mainstream society. 


Namatjira was the first Northern Territory Aboriginal person to be freed from restrictions that made Aborigines wards of the State, becoming in 1957 the first Aboriginal person to be granted Australian citizenship. In 1956 his portrait, by William Dargie, became the first of an Aboriginal person to win the Archibald Prize.