UNTITLED NO. 4, c.1965

Important Aboriginal Art
26 March 2014


(c.1910 - 1983)
UNTITLED NO. 4, c.1965

watercolour on paper

56.5 x 76.0 cm

$30,000 - 40,000

Commissioned by John McCaffrey at Mowujum, c1965
Sotheby's, Melbourne, 24 June 2002, lot 65
Private collection, Melbourne


Visionary: Watercolours by Wattie Karruwara, Kluge/Ruhe Collection, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, United States of America, 5 September - 20 December 2000

Catalogue text

This watercolour by Wattie Karrawara was part of a larger group of paintings, 38 in total, commissioned by American anthropologist John McCaffrey in 1965. The watercolours depicted many of the characters and scenes which typically form part of the Wandjina cosmological repertoire. In this work an open landscape is filled with vegetation that includes kurrajong, acacia and boab trees. Emus and water birds including Herons and Jabiru walk through the acacia scrub at the base of a rocky massif and encircle a dominant water hole. The serpents descending the boab trees were a common feature of the watercolours. They may indicate the affinity between larger boab trees and spiritual beings

Concerned with the establishment of social orders, Wandjina have totemic associations and are often represented with accompanying animals and plants. In the caves and on the rocks walls of the Kimberley, where Wandjina are rendered, are often representations of birds, kangaroos, fish and plants. This was noted in 1930 by missionary Reverend J.R.B. Love: 'the belief is that wherever the picture of an object of food is preserved in a picture cave, there the object will continue to flourish and increase.'1

1. Love, J.R.B., 'Rock paintings of the Worrora and Their Mythical Interpretation', The Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia, 1930, vol. 16