In the early 1950s, John Brack adopted the urban Melbourne environment as his subject, recording the shops, bars and workplaces of the city with an ironic edge. This painting is among the most iconic of this period. Here, Brack depicts Melbourne’s financial centre hub at the end of the working day, uniformly dressed office-workers stream homeward. Inspired by his own experience employed by a city-based insurance company, Brack points to the enduring presence of the individual by personalising each figure, despite the formal repetition and universally muted palette enchancing the over-arching sense of drudgery of nine-to-five office life.
The frame for John Brack’s Collins St. 5pm is contemporary with the work. The painting came into the collection in 1956, the year after it was painted and the frame is the one on the work at the time of acquisition. It is a simple bevelled profile, carrying a light wash of pale colour, and appears on a number of the artist's works from the mid 1950’s.
A copy of this frame was made for The bar, 1954 (2009.53). A similar frame profile was used for, The block, 1954 (1999.197) and Self portrait, 1955, (2000.185).