Collection Online
The right of way
oil on canvas
78.5 × 112.0 cm
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1891
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
Gallery location
19th Century European Paintings Gallery
Level 2, NGV International

Commissioned by Captain Henry Hill (1818–82)[1], Brighton, 1875 (accepted unfinished after Royal Academy exhibition)[2]; his collection, Brighton, until 1882; Estate of Henry Hill, 1882–89; Henry Hill estate sale, Christie’s, London, 25 May 1889, no. 129; from where purchased by Agnew's (dealer), London, 1889, stock no. 5284[3]; with Agnew’s, until 1891; from where purchased on the advice of Sir Hubert Herkomer, for the NGV, 1891.

[1] Hill was a major Victorian collector whose collection included Whistler’s Nocturne in Blue and Grey: Valparaiso Bay (1866), now at Freer Gallery of Art, Washington DC, see biographical details here This painting was lent to Brighton Art Loan Exhibition 1875, along with The right of way.

[2] This painting was mistakenly included in Walker’s posthumous sale catalogue, Christie’s, 17 July 1875, but had already been accepted (unfinished) by Hill. See Redford’s Art Sales II, 1888, p. 123, n(a), Reproduced in James Dafforne’s The Works of Frederick Walker, ARA, The Art Journal, 1875, pp. 326–29, illus. p. 32,

[3] See Agnew’s Picture Stockbook 1885–91, NGA27/1/1/7, pp. 224–25, Thomas Agnew & Sons archive, National Gallery Research Centre, London,

Exhibited Royal Academy, London, 1875, no. 25; Walker Memorial Exhibition, Deschamps Gallery, London, 1876, no. 39, lent by Captain Hill; Brighton Art Loan Exhibition, Brighton, England, lent by the Estate of Captain Henry Hill; Loan Collection of Oil Paintings and Watercolour Drawings, Second Interchange Exhibition, Adelaide, 1896, no. 3; Subject Pictures, National Gallery of Victoria travelling exhibition, 1954, no. 25; Victorian Social Conscience, Sydney, 1976, no. 64; The First 50 Years: 19th Century British Art from the Gallery Archives, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1992; Hidden Treasures, David Jones’ Art Gallery, Sydney, 1992.

Writing to the Argus newspaper on 1891, the young Australian landscape painter Arthur Streeton noted that Walker’s painting ‘impresses me very strongly as being a most refined combination of realism and poetry. It reflects very beautifully a man whose soul was filled with tenderness and true love and understanding of nature. It is art of the very highest order, and filled with the refinement of an individual mind’. The right of way was first shown at London’s Royal Academy in 1875 and was the last painting that Frederick Walker ever exhibited; for he died of tuberculosis at the age of 34 while the picture was still hanging on the walls of the Royal Academy.


Original, maker unknown


Location of stamp
Reverse of loose lining canvas, overpainted white
Ink stamp
More Information
National Portrait Gallery