The ‘Australia’ window; or ‘Oceania’ in the Sydney Town Hall

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The ‘Australia’ window; or ‘Oceania’ in the Sydney Town Hall


Allegory, centenary, colony, Goodlet & Smith, lantern, Lucien Henry, nationalism, neo-romanesque, New South Wales, Norman Revival, NSW, patriotism, Romanesque, Southern Cross, stained glass, Sydney, Sydney Town Hall, symbolism, trident, Union Jack, window


One of two neo-romanesque with rounded heads and stylised borders designed by Frenchman Lucian Henry and manufactured by Goodlet & Smith for the Sydney Town Hall auditorium, at a time when national fervour was running high in the late nineteenth century. These windows are reminiscent of Romanesque or Norman figural windows dating from the eleventh century. A tall allegorical figure, which doubtless personifies the colony of NSW, wears a helmet of ram’s horns encircled by the sun’s rays. She carries a miner’s lantern and a trident. The figure is draped in the Union Jack, and framed by four white stars on blue grounds in the shape of the Southern Cross. The fifth star is placed upon the woman’s forehead. Symbolism of this type has decidedly classical and also medieval precedents (See James Hall, Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art, 2nd Edition, Boulder, Westview Press, 2008, p.316). The woman stands astride the globe, which is inscribed with her name. The central window is flanked by decorative (and recognisably) Australian floral sidelights adorned with the words ‘Advance Australia’ and the dates of the centenary (1788-1888). This ‘Australia’ window is one of two inspirational Lucien Henry stair windows installed to celebrate Sydney’s centenary and to promote the developing national identity narrative.


Lucien Henry (designer)
Goodlet & Smith (manufacturers)


Sydney, 1887-88 (windows)
Sydney, c. 1989 (photograph)


© City of Sydney Archives



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