Collection Online
Black Bean (Castanospermum australe), (other materials)
(a) 125.4 × 127.6 × 226.0 cm (bed) (b) 222.9 × 233.0 × 59.7 cm (wardrobe) (c) 176.0 × 137.8 × 64.8 cm (wardrobe) (d) 172.7 × 137.5 × 53.5 cm (dressing table) (e) 129.5 × 108.6 × 52.1 cm (wash stand) (f) 144.0 × 124.5 × 218.4 cm (bed)
Place/s of Execution
South Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria
Accession Number
Australian Decorative Arts
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1972
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of The Vizard Foundation
Gallery location
Not on display
About the work

Robert Prenzel’s Mathias Suite comprises two beds, a gentleman’s wardrobe, a dressing table and a wash-stand. It was commissioned by Mrs Mathias of Montreal following a trip to Victoria to visit her relatives.  She ordered a virtual duplicate of Prenzel’s Glenormiston suite but with Australian floral and faunal motifs substituted for the Glenormiston suite’s waterlillies. Prenzel responded to the challenge and made the suite a showcase of Australian birds, animals and plants. The faunal motifs were depicted fairly directly, but the floral motifs were transposed, without great loss of botanical accuracy, into delightful Art Nouveau patterns.

The idea of grafting Australian motifs on to the freely flowing forms of the international Art Nouveau style was a winning one in newly federated Australia and led immediately to other orders.