This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

This Painting From 1862 Reveals A Dramatic, Cautionary Tale!

Every Painting Tells A Story

Today marks the second instalment of our collaboration with the National Gallery of Australia, celebrating Love & Desire, their incredible new exhibition of Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces, on now in Canberra!

Here, we explore the rich symbolism within one of the exhibition’s most engaging works – The Last Day in the Old Home, by Robert Braithwaite Martineau, 1862.

With photographer Eve Wilson and stylist Stephanie Stamatis, we created a series of still life photographs to illuminate the cautionary tales embedded in this painting!

17th January, 2019

Fferrone Design, Tulip Collection tall glass from Hub FurnitureBlack Pebbled Slim Line Bi Fold Wallet ($119.95) from The Daily EditedPhoto – Eve Wilson, Styling – Stephanie Stamatis, Styling Assistant – Ashley Simonetto.

Fferrone Design, Tulip Collection tall glass from Hub Furniture. Photo – Eve Wilson, Styling – Stephanie Stamatis, Styling Assistant – Ashley Simonetto.

Photo – Eve Wilson, Styling – Stephanie Stamatis, Styling Assistant – Ashley Simonetto.

Christie’s Auction catalogue provided by Ronan Sulich, Christie’s Australia. Black Pebbled Slim Line Bi Fold Wallet ($119.95) from The Daily EditedPhoto – Eve Wilson, Styling – Stephanie Stamatis, Styling Assistant – Ashley Simonetto.

Photo – Eve Wilson, Styling – Stephanie Stamatis, Styling Assistant – Ashley Simonetto.

Photo – Eve Wilson, Styling – Stephanie Stamatis, Styling Assistant – Ashley Simonetto.

Lucy Feagins
Thursday 17th January 2019

The fictional events depicted here unfold like a Netflix nail-biter!

Robert Braithwaite Martineau is one of the most celebrated of the Pre-Raphaelite painters, and he completed this painting, The Last Day in the Old Home, in 1862.

At almost one-and-a-half-metres wide and more than one-metre tall, when viewed in the gallery context, this incredibly detailed work is utterly engrossing. There is just so much going on here! In fact, the fictional events depicted here unfold like a Netflix nail-biter of the nineteenth century! Allow me to explain…

As the title suggests, this formerly affluent family is preparing to depart their grand home – and all signs point to the rather tragic circumstances in which they have lost their fortune. Our protagonist, Sir Charles Pulleyne, is depicted as a rosy-cheeked hedonist, wine glass in hand, oblivious to the suffering of his wife and family as they prepare to hand over their home and worldly possessions.

The leather race book in Sir Charles’ hand, and the racehorse painting in the left foreground insinuate that he has gambled away the family fortune.

Look closely, and you’ll also spot auction lot numbers on various artworks, antiques and furniture items around the house, along with a Christie’s auction catalogue on the floor in the front right (easier to spot when viewing this painting in real life!). Tragically, the family’s possessions will soon be sold to the highest bidder.

The old woman (perhaps the grandmother), wipes a tear with her handkerchief, as she passes over the keys to the house. A newspaper on the table beside her shows advertisements for ‘Apartments’.

Outside the window, autumn branches symbolise the end of prosperity and the gloomy future which lies ahead for this family. Embers in the fire confirm that their time is nearly up.

Whilst grandmother, wife and daughter look mournful, Sir Charles’ seems unconcerned (or in denial?) about all of this. His grasp on his wine glass symbolises recklessness – and by sharing this indulgence with his young son, it is implied that his foolishness will be passed on to the next generation.

Love & Desire: Pre-Raphaelite Masterpieces from the Tate
Until April 28th, 2019
National Gallery of Australia
Parkes Pl E, Parkes
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
For more information and tickets, click here.

 

This Week

Architecture

A 90m² Inner-Suburban Block Turned Multipurpose Family Home!

MRTN Architects have designed family home, office, and granny flat on a mere 90m² Brunswick East block!

Interiors

A Before-And-After Interior Renovation That’ll Knock Your Socks Off!

AMA Studio Interiors transforms a rustic, wood-panelled cottage on the NSW Central Coast into dreamy family retreat.

Interiors

11 Mirrors That Are Having A Moment!

Lauren Li's edit of her favourite mirrors out there right now, to take your space to the next level!
Lauren Li

Architecture

A Modernist-Inspired Seaside Home

This adaptable, Victorian seaside home designed by Nest Architects and Placement blurs the line between modernism and contemporary design. ...

News

Delicious New Bed Linen From A Local Fave

Melbourne-based bed linen stars, The Sheet Society, launches a moody new winter range ripe for mixing + matching.
Sponsored

On The Market

A Rammed Earth Masterpiece With Sweeping Mountain Views

Rarely are the stunning architectural homes we feature for sale... but this jaw-dropping Peter Stutchbury Architecture-designed home is!
Marcus Lloyd-Jones
  2 hours ago

News

An Online Super Store + Subscription Service For All-Natural Goodies

GoodnessMe carries over 3,000 products from snacks to ready-made meals – with samples delivered to your door every month!
Sponsored

Interiors

A Glam ’60s-Inspired Makeover For A Drab Suburban Home

Kaiko Design transform a forgettable suburban space into a ritzy family residence, with big personality!

Homes

A Remarkable Family Home Transformation

Maddie and Mike Witter transformed a mould-ridden, dilapidated house into a bright and breezy family home for six!
02:27

Travel

A Perfect Day in Daylesford & The Macedon Ranges, With Paul Bangay

Lucy joins legendary landscape designer Paul Bangay for a dreamy day trip in Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges, capturing the best that the

Architecture

A New Zealand Villa Built For Hosting

Architecture firm Maud creates a home for a family of hospitality professionals, built around a generous kitchen, outdoor room + pétanque g...

Architecture

A Minimalist Home Where The Landscape Takes Centre Stage

This Mount Mellum, Queensland home by Sparks Architects is all about its incredible views, taking in the ocean and D'Aguilar Range!
Amelia Barnes
  10 hours ago
51:47

Podcast

Country Road’s Managing Director On The Stickiness Of Sustainable Fashion, On TDF Talks

In this podcast conversation, Elle Roseby talks leading one of the country’s most iconic brands through a new age in the fashion industry....

Interiors

A Joyful Home, Full Of Whimsy + Glamour

Scalloped edges and vibrant colours have elevated this Sydney terrace by Arent&Pyke.

TDF Design Awards

The Most Fabulous New Furniture Designs In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021

There is no shortage of innovation and inspiration from the Furniture Design finalists In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards this year!

View Comments

Similar Stories

Art

7 Women Shaking Up The Australian Art Scene

The trailblazing artists making their own unique mark on Australia's creative landscape. 
Elle Murrell

TDF Films

Styled Settings · A Winter Feast

A new video series of easy styling ideas to elevate your next dinner party or social gathering, inspired by Jansz Tasmania’s collection of...

Every Painting Tells A Story

Uncovering The Hidden Symbolism In NGA's New Blockbuster: 'Love & Desire'

Our collaboration with National Gallery of Australia, celebrating their incredible new exhibition of Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces from London...

This Week

Interiors

11 Mirrors That Are Having A Moment!

Lauren Li's edit of her favourite mirrors out there right now, to take your space to the next level!
Lauren Li

Architecture

A New Zealand Villa Built For Hosting

Architecture firm Maud creates a home for a family of hospitality professionals, built around a generous kitchen, outdoor room + pétanque g...

News

Delicious New Bed Linen From A Local Fave

Melbourne-based bed linen stars, The Sheet Society, launches a moody new winter range ripe for mixing + matching.
Sponsored

Interiors

A Joyful Home, Full Of Whimsy + Glamour

Scalloped edges and vibrant colours have elevated this Sydney terrace by Arent&Pyke.

Interiors

A Before-And-After Interior Renovation That’ll Knock Your Socks Off!

AMA Studio Interiors transforms a rustic, wood-panelled cottage on the NSW Central Coast into dreamy family retreat.
02:27

Travel

A Perfect Day in Daylesford & The Macedon Ranges, With Paul Bangay

Lucy joins legendary landscape designer Paul Bangay for a dreamy day trip in Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges, capturing the best that the

News

An Online Super Store + Subscription Service For All-Natural Goodies

GoodnessMe carries over 3,000 products from snacks to ready-made meals – with samples delivered to your door every month!
Sponsored

Architecture

A 90m² Inner-Suburban Block Turned Multipurpose Family Home!

MRTN Architects have designed family home, office, and granny flat on a mere 90m² Brunswick East block!

Homes

A Remarkable Family Home Transformation

Maddie and Mike Witter transformed a mould-ridden, dilapidated house into a bright and breezy family home for six!

Architecture

A Modernist-Inspired Seaside Home

This adaptable, Victorian seaside home designed by Nest Architects and Placement blurs the line between modernism and contemporary design. ...

TDF Design Awards

The Most Fabulous New Furniture Designs In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021

There is no shortage of innovation and inspiration from the Furniture Design finalists In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards this year!

Architecture

A Minimalist Home Where The Landscape Takes Centre Stage

This Mount Mellum, Queensland home by Sparks Architects is all about its incredible views, taking in the ocean and D'Aguilar Range!
Amelia Barnes
  10 hours ago
51:47

Podcast

Country Road’s Managing Director On The Stickiness Of Sustainable Fashion, On TDF Talks

In this podcast conversation, Elle Roseby talks leading one of the country’s most iconic brands through a new age in the fashion industry....

Interiors

A Glam ’60s-Inspired Makeover For A Drab Suburban Home

Kaiko Design transform a forgettable suburban space into a ritzy family residence, with big personality!

On The Market

A Rammed Earth Masterpiece With Sweeping Mountain Views

Rarely are the stunning architectural homes we feature for sale... but this jaw-dropping Peter Stutchbury Architecture-designed home is!
Marcus Lloyd-Jones
  2 hours ago

Similar Stories

Art

7 Women Shaking Up The Australian Art Scene

The trailblazing artists making their mark on Australia's creative landscape. 
Elle Murrell

TDF Films

Styled Settings · A Winter Feast

A new video series of inspired entertaining ideas, created in partnership with Jansz Tasmania.

Every Painting Tells A Story

Uncovering The Hidden Symbolism In NGA's New Blockbuster: 'Love & Desire'

Our collaboration with National Gallery of Australia, celebrating their incredible new exhibition of Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces from London...

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.