This exhibition tells the story of an artist and a city. Inspired by some of Lloyd Rees’s finest pencil drawings and sketches, it features more than 90 works from public and private collections in Australia and across the world, some rarely exhibited before.


The Brisbane born artist moved to Sydney in 1917 and made this city his home for nearly 70 years, lovingly representing many of its landscapes throughout an artistic career that stretched across the 20th century. The exhibition focuses on his depictions of Sydney, particularly the harbour and its surroundings. After suffering personal tragedy Rees immersed himself in drawing working en plein air, seeking the permanence of things. In this exhibition Rees’s artistic obsession in particular with Balls Head is revealed, his pencil capturing many renditions of the lower north shore headland. Also illustrated are the suburbs he called home, from Pennant Hills to McMahons Point, and beyond to the South Coast, a favoured holiday destination.

The featured works reveal a quieter view of Sydney during the interwar period and reconfirms Rees as one of the most important 20th century Australian artists. He captured the quiet and timeless beauty of many cities, in particular his beloved Sydney; its harbour and rocky shorelines, emerging city centre and burgeoning suburbs. 

These original works will be accompanied by a selection of family photographs, artists’ tools and filmed recollections from Rees’s family, friends and students, presented alongside biographical information about the artist and his illustrious career. 


… good drawing is expressive drawing. It reveals what the artist is thinking and feeling concerning his subject...

Lloyd Rees, Art in Australia, February 1940

Lloyd Rees (1895 - 1988)

This is a black and white portrait photograph of the head and shoulders of a man in his mid 40s

Photographer unknown, 1930s. Courtesy Alan and Jancis Rees

Further Reading

Want to find out more about Lloyd Rees's life and career? Below is a list of just some of the many published resources about this celebrated artist.

  • The small treasures of a lifetime: some early memories of Australian art and artists, Lloyd Rees, 1969, Ure Smith, Sydney
  • Peaks and valleys: an autobiography, Lloyd Rees, 1985, Collins, Sydney
  • Lloyd Rees, Renée Free, 1972, Melbourne Lansdowne Press, Melbourne
  • Lloyd Rees: an artist remembers, Renée Free, 1983, Craftsman House, NSW
  • Encounters with Australian artists, Janet Hawley, 1993, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia. Queensland
  • Lloyd Rees drawings: centenary retrospective, Hendrik Kolenberg, 1995, The Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
  • Lloyd Rees: a sourcebook, compiled by Alan and Jancis Rees, 1995, Beagle Press, Sydney
  • Lloyd Rees: paintings, drawings and prints, Hendrik Kolenberg assisted by Patricia James, 2013, The Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
  • Lloyd Rees: painting with pencil 1930-36, various contributors, 2015, Richard Nagy Ltd with Sydney Living Museums

Museum of Sydney

Major partner

12 December 2015 - 17 April 2016


Media release

Exhibition celebrating distinguished Australian artist.pdf

Related stories