R. Godfrey Rivers, Under the jacaranda

Artist: R. Godfrey Rivers 1859-1925

Title: Under the jacaranda

Date: 1903

Medium and size: Oil on canvas, 143.4 x 107.2 cm

Queensland Art Gallery, Queensland, Australia

EMu user since 2003

KE client since 1989


december_small.gifUnder the jacaranda has been one of the best loved works in the Queensland Art Gallery since it entered the Collection in 1903. Godfrey Rivers completed the painting 13 years after he arrived in Australia from the United Kingdom.

The work depicts Rivers and Miss Selina Bell, who later became his wife, taking tea under the shade of a jacaranda tree in full bloom. The tree was a landmark in Brisbane’s Botanic Gardens, which adjoined the grounds of the Brisbane Technical College where Rivers taught from 1891 to 1915.

It was almost certainly the first jacaranda to be grown in Australia. Walter Hill, the Gardens’ Superintendent, planted it in 1864. It remained in the Gardens until 1979, when it was blown over during a cyclone - part of the trunk is now located at the offices of the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens.

With jacarandas now growing in most Brisbane suburbs, many the progeny of this first tree, Under the jacaranda may be considered a quintessential image of this city.