Back in time: Brisbane’s Randall Art Gallery


Richard John Randall (1869-1906) was a Brisbane based artist known for his watercolours and paintings of Australian landscapes. After studying abroad from 1891 and exhibiting at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, he returned to Brisbane in 1899 and established his own residence and art studio at Cordelia Street in South Brisbane. He also took an active role in local clubs and societies and was the Royal Queensland Art Society vice-president from 1903 until his death aged 37.

OF INTEREST: The Golden Book of Gifts

Richard John Randall

In December 1892 Richard John Randall was accepted into the Herkomer School run by Professor Hubert von Herkomer at Bushey, Hertfordshire, north of London c 1892 / Courtesy: Trove, National Library Australia

In 1893 the South Brisbane Town Council occupied the corner site at 472 Stanley Street, and in 1897 the complex became the South Brisbane Municipal Library and Technical College, also known as the South Brisbane School of Arts. When in 1909 the Council was persuaded to accept 600 of Randall’s artworks in perpetual trust after his death, it converted the library on the first floor into an art gallery, with the Randall Art Gallery opening in 1914.

Interior Randall Art Gallery

Interior views of the Randall Art Gallery c.1914 / Courtesy: Trove, National Library Australia

In 1925 the Brisbane City Council took over the structure including the Collection and eventually it was transferred to be displayed on the fifth floor of the Brisbane City Hall after the building was completed in 1930. More works were added through gifts and purchases when the City Hall Arts and Historical Committee became responsible for development of the art collection, now housed in the Museum of Brisbane located on the top floor of the City Hall.

The Randall Art Gallery, ‘A Treasure House of Beauty’ was much loved at the time, with an enthusiastic outpouring in the Queensland Figaro in 1926 ‘The Randall Art Gallery is one of Brisbane’s most beautiful possessions, and a gem of loveliness which her citizens should be proud to possess and love.’ Lost but not forgotten.

Research and supplementary material compiled by Elliott Murray, Senior Digital Marketing Officer, QAGOMA

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Featured image: South Brisbane Town Hall incorporating the Randall Art Gallery c.1914 / 4826 / Courtesy: State Library of Queensland, Brisbane