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A day’s picnic on Clark Island1870

by Montagu Scott

A day’s picnic… depicts a New Years Day picnic — ‘an established institution amongst Australians’— on Clark Island in Sydney Harbour.

In all the detail of this painting a story is being told — each figure is part of the narrative. The gentleman with the newspaper, for instance, has been alerted by his wife to the flirtation of the man to his left, who has charmingly lifted his hat to two young women, who are probably the gentleman’s daughters. Curiously Clark Island has no such dominating rock formations — Scott has significantly exaggerated its scale.

Paintings which attempted to document the complexities and mores of contemporary society, like Scott’s collection of Sydneysiders, were very popular in the late 19th century.