William Barak
Figures in possum skin cloaks 1898
pencil, wash, charcoal solution, gouache and earth pigments on paper
57.0 x 88.8 cm (image and sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1962

William Barak

The Barak Commissions

In honour of the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the National Gallery of Victoria, the Felton Bequest has made a special gift, which edifies and considerably strengthens the NGV's Indigenous collection.

From the 1860s, at the time of the NGV’s founding, William Barak was a leader of great renown and also became a highly significant artist, working on behalf of his people at Coranderrk, near Healesville. The Felton Bequest has commissioned three contemporary artists to create installations that honour Barak’s art and life and acknowledge his central place in the history of Victoria and the NGV.

Furthermore, the Felton Gift includes three Kimberley masterworks – Yunurr by Rover Thomas and two Wanjina by Alec Mingelmanganu and two great collections of Indigenous art, one of 19th century shields and the other of contemporary paintings from the Far Western Desert. The Felton Bequest is proud to make these significant gifts of Indigenous visual culture to celebrate the NGV’s great 150th Anniversary. As noted by the Chairman of the Felton Bequests’ Committee, Sir Andrew Grimwade, ‘All of these works fill our hearts with astonishment and light’.