Collection Online
The sirens
oil on canvas
308.0 × 212.3 cm
Place/s of Execution
Paris, France
inscribed in black paint l.r.: J Longstaff
Accession Number
Australian Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented by the artist under the terms of the National Gallery of Victoria Travelling Scholarship, 1894
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of The Vizard Foundation
Gallery location
Gallery 6
Level 2, NGV Australia


This large frame, based on the original frame on Longstaffs Arrival of Burke, Wills and King at the deserted camp at Cooper's Creek, Sunday evening, 21st April 1861 (343-2), was built in order to bring The sirens to display in 1994. It uses cast composition ornament, in the form of a large format imbricated leaf torus, wrapped over a wooden core, built on a fluted scotia, wooden profile.

The original frame for the painting was found in pieces in storage in 1994. The arched slip section remains missing.
The original frame is a large scale, plain scotia frame, made in four parts for diss-assembly and transport.
Considerable shrinkage in the timber of the frame has lead to losses and flaking in the gesso and gilding.
The frame requires lengthy restoration.
It is possible this original frame was made in France where the painting was created in response to the Travelling Scholarship.

The frame is mentioned in the Trustees report for 1937 in relation to the need to resource frame repair and re-framing work in the collection: “The frame for Sir John Longstaff’s large picture, ‘The Sirens’ was repaired at a cost of £2:2:0. This drew attention to the fact that frames generally in the gallery are in need both of replacement and repair. The amount in the past granted for this purpose has been quite inadequate and should be increased.”

Reproduction - crafted by the NGV

timber, composition, false gold leaf

350 x 254 x 20.5 cm