Grainger as Artist
"You would so like to see him, fair, very, with long curling golden hair, blue eyes, and legs fit to carry the Tower of Babel. Of course as all fathers are I am proud of him, not alone on account of his intelligence, purity of mind, strictness of keeping straight to the truth even if a promised whipping from his mother would prevent it (which by the bye seldom comes off), his kindness in giving over his toys and playthings to his little friends and above all his ardent desire to be an ARTIST. These sweet characteristics have all been brought about by his mother's care of him and so far as I can judge at present I think she will be amply rewarded for all the loving care she has so lavishly given to him.
At present he draws well, immensely well, and it is a frightful thing to keep him from being always at it, and his mother is most anxious he should be an artist. I'm afraid if he becomes one that he will be dangerous, and his mother's ambition is to take him to London OR PARIS where some old Duchess or young with influence, may "take him up": that is introduce him to a lot of people who buy pictures not on account of the picture, but for the artist.
Well, after all, perhaps it is the best method, but I am afraid he will make a pin mark in a few of their hearts but I feel certain the lad will turn out well and not taint his name in any way."
Excerpt from letter, John Grainger to his father,
14 January 1890, W5-1.
It is not very well known that, in addition to his prodigious gifts as pianist and composer, Grainger was a talented artist. Learning initially from his father John Grainger, the well-known architect (but fine watercolourist), and then from Frederick McCubbin - the famous Australian artist of the Heidelberg School, up until the age of eighteen, Grainger was seriously considering dropping his music career altogether in favour of the visual arts. Given that he befriended artists such as McCubbin, Rupert Bunny, Tom Roberts, Norman Lindsay (to name but a few), this is hardly surprising!
The Grainger Museum celebrated this neglected aspect of Grainger's career during its 1997 Special Exhibition entitled Percy Grainger (1882-1861): Artist and Art Collector. In the accompanying exhibition catalogue is the following essay by the Consultant Curator, Elinor Wrobel on Percy Grainger's Art: 'Da Da ist' or Aussie 'Make-Do-ist'.
Below are some representative paintings from the digitising project in which one hundred of the four hundred and fifty artworks in the collection were photographed.
Click on the thumbnails for full-size images.