Lot 18
  • 18

Paddy Compass Namatbara circa 1890-1973

10,000 - 15,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Paddy Compass Namatbara
  • Mimihs
  • Bears artist's name "Neiimburra" (sic) and title "Mimis" (sic) in chalk on the reverse, together with the artist's name and title on Spence Museum label on the reverse and catalogue number 28.
  • Natural earth pigments on eucalyptus bark
  • 78cm by 47cm


Painted in West Arnhem Land circa 1960

G.W. Spence, Gardens Museum and Gallery, Darwin

Dr George Gill, Kansas, USA, 1967

The Spence-Gill Collection, Wyoming USA

Sotheby's, Important Aboriginal Art, Melbourne, 28 June, 1999, lot 110 (AU634)

Fiona Brockhoff, Melbourne


Crossing Country - The Alchemy of Western Arnhem Land Art, The Art Gallery of New South Wales, 25 September - 12 December, 2004

Cf. Wally Caruana et al., Old Masters, Australia’s Great Bark Artists, National Museum of Australia, Canberra, 2013, pp.78 – 85, for illustrations of related works.  


In 1967 American collectors Dr Ed Ruhe and Dr George Gill purchased the contents of the recently closed Gardens Museum and Gallery, a private museum belonging to Mr G.W. Spence, situated in the Botanical Gardens, Darwin. In the collection were 110 bark paintings, 37 of which were acquired by Gill and the remainder split between Ruhe and Californian collector Louis A. Allen. This painting was part of Dr Gill’s collection up until its sale in 1999.

Paddy Compass Namatbara (Neiimburra) was of the Alurdju clan of the Iwaidja people, who resided in the 1950s and 1960s at Minjilang (Croker Island). He was one of a group of artists that included Yirawala, Mijau Mijau and January Nangunyari, whose paintings were acquired for major collections and museums by Karel Kupka, Dorothy Bennett and the anthropologists Ron and Catherine Berndt. He is renowned for his dynamic, twisting and entwined figures on bark that are similar to a type of rock art in the region. This example is finer in detail and sharper in execution than examples from the 1960s, indicating that it may be an earlier example from the 1950s.