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Benjamin Landara

152 Career Overall Rank

190 2016 Market Rank

  • Born: 1921 - 1985
  • Active: 1955-

  • Region:

Benjamin Landara is an historic member of the Hermannsburg watercolour school. Famously, it was Albert Namatjira whose representations of the dramatic scenery of the Australian interior west of Alice Springs founded this movement. Namatjira gained an unexpected burst of financial success and celebrity status, unheard of for an Aboriginal person at that time. This changed the course of Australian art. He went on to encourage his extended family members to take up the brush and follow in his footsteps. Benjamin Landara was included in that foundational group. He was related to the Ebataringa family, also artists, and married Namatjira’s eldest daughter Maisie. By the late 1940s he was painting alongside Albert, his early work revealing the master’s influence.

The Australian centre could be considered one of the most challenging living environments in the world. Yet Aboriginal people, over many thousands of years, lived a culturally and spiritually rich life here. In the 1930s Hermannsburg Mission (established by German Lutherans in 1877) became the place where a new Aboriginal art form emerged. The encouragement of painting by the mission enabled its continuance after visiting watercolour artists had introduced European materials and methods to an Aboriginal audience. Under Rex Battarbee’s mentorship, Namatjira transmuted the intimate relationship that his people have with their Country into a new visual form. It followed the realistic representational method of European tradition but imbued it with a new sensibility, absolutely unique. In a subtle manner, it communicated the rich and ancient indigenous heritage and counteracted to a small degree the widespread destitution caused by European settlement. The Hermannsburg School challenged the European perception of the centre as an unattractive and empty place and drew attention to the plight of Aboriginal people. 

Landara attended the mission school and learnt English and Christian religious beliefs. Christianity became a strong support to his dispossessed people and seemed able to exist in harmony with their Dreaming beliefs, many looking back fondly on those early days with the German missionaries. The priests were kind and considerate of the Arrente people who were suffering greatly due to the loss of their vital hunting grounds and cultural support systems. Namatjira developed his craft over many long camel back excursions with Battarbee into the lands around Hermannsburg - first as an assistant and later as an artist of equal regard. Some argued that he soon surpassed his mentor. Soon he was taking his own painting groups, including Landara, on painting trips. Exhibitions in the Southern capitals were frequently selling out to an enthusiastic public while angry critics argued over artistic merit and even English royalty paid their respects.

It was this hopeful story that was the basis of Landara’s career. He became a stalwart member of the family, accompanying the group out along the Finke River and into the MacDonnell ranges to paint at different times of day and seasons of the year. Battarbee described him as “a kindly person, and an asset to the family group…an excellent colourist with a keen perception of beauty.” He was capable of rendering complex imagery with unfailingly exquisite brushwork. Consequently his work was sought after by visitors to the Namatjira camp near Alice Springs, hoping for a bargain by avoiding official channels. People admired his pleasing, pastel tones and grasp of light across the land. He was regularly included in exhibitions, eventually having his works bought by State Galleries and included in their permanent collections. But success brought its own particular forms of conflict and sorrow for the Namatjira family, particularly in regard to the contradictory expectations of white and black laws. It was this that led to Albert’s untimely death.

Though the mission is long gone and the laws have improved, the children and grandchildren of the early group have continued on and beyond the tradition of the Hermannsburg School. Art historians have reevaluated these landscapes as coded expressions of traditional sites and knowledge, not obvious to the uninitiated eye and somewhat in keeping with the abstract forms that burst onto the art scene thirty years later at Papunya. In consequence, from many points of view (aesthetically, monetarily and historically), the original works by Landara and others have become highly valued artworks. 

Profile References

Batterbee, Rex & Bernice. 1971. Modern Aboriginal Painting. Adelaide. Rigby.
French, A. 2002. Seeing the Centre: The Art of Albert Namatjira 1902-1959. Australia. National Gallery of Australia.

Sites

Subjects

Medium

Regional Map

Note: This map is a representation and not accurate. Some sites are sacred and therefore not shown.

Market Performance

Career Totals

AIAM100 Rank
152
AIAM100 Rating
1.1511
Sold/Offered
306/380
Clearance Rate
81%
Average Price
$434
Total Price
$132,673
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
0.1863 0.3341 0.1986 0.4095 0.6288 0.4158 0.3698 0.1612 0.2575 0.2797 0.3362 0.1706 0.0116 0.1226 0.0858 0.2589 0.0772
10/12 15/19 10/11 18/21 29/30 20/23 14/18 6/10 10/10 12/14 16/16 10/16 1/8 6/12 4/4 13/14 4/7
$347 $496 $394 $518 $470 $432 $698 $722 $663 $543 $441 $291 $135 $418 $460 $397 $372
Yearly Market Performance Graph from 2000 - 2016

Top 10 Artworks Sold at Auction

1

(Untitled)

sale price: $1,680.00
auction: Bonhams & Goodman, Sydney  lot: 213 date: 19/07/2009
53 x 74 cm Watercolour
2

Untitled Landscape (1977)

sale price: $1,560.00
auction: Bonhams & Goodman, Sydney  lot: 115 date: 21/09/2008
26 x 36.5 cm Watercolour
3

Landscape

sale price: $1,495.00
auction: GFL Fine Art, Perth  lot: 68 date: 01/06/2010
38 x 55 cm Watercolour
4

Untitled

sale price: $1,464.00
auction: Mossgreen Auctions, Sydney  lot: 139 date: 18/08/2008
25 x 17 cm each Two Hermansburg watercolours
5

Ghost Gums, Central Australia

sale price: $1,380.00
auction: Deutscher~Menzies, Melbourne  lot: 115D date: 24/11/1999
33.5 x 49.5 cm Watercolour on paper
6

Central Australian Landscape

sale price: $1,320.00
auction: Lawsons, Sydney  lot: 122 date: 02/03/1997
54 x 75 cm Watercolour
7

Central Australian Landscape

sale price: $1,320.00
auction: Elder Fine Art, Adelaide  lot: 180 date: 06/08/2006
26 x 74 cm Watercolour
8

Central Australian Landscape, c. 1963

sale price: $1,200.00
auction: Lawson~Menzies, Sydney  lot: 472 date: 22/11/2006
19 x 27 cm Quartet watercolour on board
9

Central Australian Landscape

sale price: $1,200.00
auction: Lawson~Menzies, Sydney  lot: 21 date: 06/02/2007
36 x 52 cm Watercolour on board
10

Twin Gums in Landscape

sale price: $1,177.00
auction: Watson's Auctioneers , Christchurch  lot: 83 date: 30/05/2006
24.5 x 37 cm Watercolour

Available Artworks

Hermannsburg Hills by Benjamin Landara
Hermannsburg Hills
Benjamin Landara 5

54 x 38 cm
#14130 LOCATION: Bondi Beach
$900.00

 by Benjamin Landara

Benjamin Landara 5

36 x 26 cm
#14131 LOCATION: Paddington
$660.00

 by Benjamin Landara

Benjamin Landara 5

25 x 16 cm
#14132 LOCATION: Bondi Beach
$600.00

 by Benjamin Landara

Benjamin Landara 5

53 x 39 cm
#14124 LOCATION: Bondi Beach
$450.00

 by Benjamin Landara

Benjamin Landara 5

26 x 18 cm
#14129 LOCATION: Bondi Beach
$300.00