Australian Historical Art Fund & Heritage Government Residences

Sculpture of a Kangaroo, 1933

Charles E. Oliver
Bronze, marble
Height: 15.0cm

The kangaroo was considered an extraordinary animal and without comparison in the animal world when Captain Cook and Sir Joseph Banks first encountered it in 1770. Perhaps more than any other flora or fauna, the kangaroo came to symbolize Australia as a colony throughout the 19th century. It appeared in coats of arms and on every type of object from carved emu eggs to silver epergnes. There were an increasing number of kangaroo ornamented objects as the century came closer to Federation in 1901. This spirit of nationalism was also aroused by the Australian political movement of the time.


By the 1930s depictions of the unusual leaping and bounding movement of the kangaroo began to be explored. A very well known example of this interest in the graceful movement of the kangaroo can be seen in the kangaroo penny of 1938. Oliver's sculpture of the kangaroo of 1933 also shows a naturalistic style of kangaroo in motion. Charles Oliver was a founding member of the Sculptors' Society of Australia in Melbourne with whom he exhibited as well as exhibiting with the Australian Artists Society 1929-36. He also worked on the Shrine of Remembrance with sculptor Paul Montford.

This selection represents a small sample of our collection. Our book detailing the collection is currently out of print.
An updated edition has been published in 2017.
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