Idle Hour



Oil on canvas on hardboard

81.9 cm diam

Art Gallery of NSW

The first version of this beautiful circular painting was first exhibited by the Society of Artists on 6 Oct 1933 and is in the Dr Norman Behan collection of the University Art Museum Queensland. Murch painted it while working with George Lambert 1927 – 30. He had made a plaster cast of the girl’s head in order “to get the shadows right”. The Trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales suggested amendments and then purchased the second version in 1933. The painting has been exhibited in 150 years of Australian Art, Art Gallery of NSW 1938; Jubilee Exhibition of Australian Art 1951 (touring exhibition); Brave New World National Gallery of Victoria 2017. Reproduced on the cover of “The White Chrysanthemum” by Nancy Keesing, Angus and Robertson 1977

Arthur wrote in 1975:

“Idle Hour” 1933, a circular painting, was a second version. Originally I had made sculptures of the baby and child, but the advent of Amy Johnson with an escort of 10 planes in 1930 caused me to run outside to look and the model was spoiled. I decided to paint a picture, using the sculptures and a red-headed model as the mother. I grouped them together to see how the light would fall. The brocade on which the baby rests belonged to Lambert’s studio.

IMG_0270-Study-for-Idle-Hour-for-Gall _DSC0666-Baby-study-for-Gall

Shirley Hovey and Marjorie Larkin Jones – the models for Idle Hour. Photo by Ria Murch, 1990’s


Study for ‘An Idle hour’ 1933 Oil on canvas on plywood 91.5 cm (diam) Purchased 1956 Photograph: Natasha Harth, QAGOMA