An image of The sower

James Gleeson

(Australia 21 Nov 1915 – 20 Oct 2008)

The sower

20th & 21st c Australian art
Further information

I think that there was always the hope that it could influence the way people thought about war. That it could alert people to its horrors and prevent it occurring again. You see, I was born during the First World War in 1915, and my earliest experiences were with people who were in that war or remembered the war very vividly, and then, just when I was beginning to paint, the Second World War began. So war became a kind of lurking terror in my mind from infancy through to late adolescence, when it was all building up again for another one.

I had Millet’s Sower in mind when I painted it. This is a 20th-century ‘Sower’ and the dislocated limbs represent humanity out of gear, the bleak landscape represents the present period, whereas Millet’s landscape showed fertility.

James Gleeson, 1993

oil on canvas
76.2 x 50.8 cm stretcher; 90.5 x 65.0 x 4.4 cm frame
Signature & date

Signed and dated l.l. corner, pale blue oil "'44/ Gleeson".

Purchased 1966
Accession number
© Gleeson/O'Keefe Foundation