In 1951 Russell Drysdale travelled to Cape York Peninsula in northern Queensland where he developed an interest in Indigenous Australians as a subject for his work. Many of the paintings he produced during this time depict Aboriginal subjects in urban and rural settings, and reveal the artist’s objective compassion toward the people he met and painted. These works formed a significant social comment on the sense of displacement experienced by Indigenous people during the early 1950s in Australia.

'Aboriginal stockmen' emanates from this period and presents two young Indigenous Australian stockmen standing side-by-side in a photographic-type format. Portraying the young men at a close proximity – in comparison to related works, such as ('Group of Aboriginal people') (1953) – the painting establishes a more intimate connection between its subject and the viewer.


  • Title: Aboriginal stockmen
  • Creator: Russell Drysdale
  • Date Created: circa 1953
  • Physical Dimensions: 76.5 x 60.9 cm stretcher; 87.8 x 72.5 cm frame
  • Provenance: Macquarie Galleries, 1953, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, Exhibited in 'Russell Drysdale' at Macquarie Galleries, 18 Nov - 4 Dec 1953, cat.no. 14: 'Station boys', 30" x 20", 185 Gns.; Bonython Art Gallery [Sydney], pre 1964, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia; Ausgrid, 1964-2013, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, Sydney County Council commissioned Bonython Galleries to supply 23 paintings by Australian artists to be installed in their new Head Office building. 'Station boys' was purchased by Sydney City Council from Bonython Galleries in December 1964 for $6,300
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Gifted by Ausgrid on behalf of the NSW Government 2013
  • External Link: https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/95.2013
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Signature & Date: Signed l.r. corner, red oil "Russell Drysdale". Not dated.
  • Object Other Titles: Station boys
  • Artist Country: England, Australia

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