Collection Online

Study for The quest
(c. 1905)

oil on canvas
61.3 × 40.8 cm
Place/s of Execution
Melbourne, Victoria
inscribed (diagonally) in green paint l.l.: B.Hall (Hall underlined)
inscribed in pen and ink on accompanying label: "The Quest" (he Quest underlined) / I sent my Soul through the Invisible, / Some letter of that After (...illeg.) life to spell: " / Omar Khayyam . (ar Khayyam underlined) / L. Bernard Hall. / National Gallery / Melbourne (bou underlined) . Australia
Accession Number
Australian Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
The Joseph Brown Collection. Presented through the NGV Foundation by Dr Joseph Brown AO OBE, Honorary Life Benefactor, 2004
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of The Vizard Foundation
Gallery location
Not on display

Hall’s interest in the Symbolist movement reflects his continuing engagement with European art movements. The Symbolists were concerned with representing ideas and concepts through their work, rather than the naturalism, or literal representation, popular in Australian painting in the nineteenth century. Drawing on a stanza from the twelfth-century Persian text The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, Study for The quest is a contemplation of moral isolation and self-dependence:

I sent my Soul through the Invisible,
Some letter of the After-life to spell:
And by and by my Soul return’d to me,
And answer’d ‘I Myself am Heav’n and Hell’