Guide to the Papers of Virginia Spate


MS 10552

National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: August 2020

Collection Summary

Spate, Virginia
Papers of Virginia Spate
Date Range
Collection Number
MS 10552
5.31 metres (25 MS Boxes + 1 Archives Box + 1 Large Folio Box + 1 Map Folio + 1 Folder)
Language of Materials
Special Collections (Manuscripts)


Content Description

The collection comprises personal and business papers relating to Spate's career as art historian, academic, author and curator and includes correspondence, research files, family papers and juvenilia, book drafts, slides and posters.

Conditions Governing Access

Access conditions may apply to this collection, please refer to the collection's catalogue record for further information ( 4935005).

Conditions Governing Use

Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions. For such material, written permission to publish must be obtained from the copyright holder(s). Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.

Preferred Citation

Items from this collection should be cited as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Papers of Virginia Spate, National Library of Australia, MS 10552######, [class/series/file/item number(s)]'.


Virginia Spate's papers were collected from her home (personal papers) and from Schaeffer Library at the Power Institute, University of Sydney (research files and other University material). It appears the original order of the latter files may not have been maintianed during the move from Professor Spate's former office to storage at the Library. There is some mixing of the personal and research papers and business and personal correspondence. Original file titles have been maintained. For other research files, only the title pages of photocopied published research resources have been retained, unless the photocopies had been annotated by Spate. Some correspondence was kept in chronological order, while other correspondence from individuals such as family members, were grouped together.

Item Descriptions

Class. Consignment received 2010

Handwritten poem by A.D. Hope, ca.1951 (File 1a) - Box 1

Inscribed "To Miss Virginia Spate, on the occasion of her [14th] birthday, an ode". Signed by Hope. Original is in two pieces. Included is a photocopy of the poem with an annotation showing the transcription of text obscured by a tear in the paper

Class. Consignment received February 2019

This consignment comprises Spate family papers, juvenilia, correspondence including from Andrej Drescher, A D Hope, Clement Meadmore, Bernard Smith, Daniel Thomas and a significant tranche of letters from Germano Facetti.

Series. Family papers, juvenilia

Rangoon, 1938 - 1945 (File 1b) - Box 1

Includes invitations, menus, Government House ball; offprint for "Rangoon: a study in urban geography". Also letter from 'Happy' to 'Spatie' sent from 1 Punjab Regiment 10 August 1942

Correspondence, 1944 - 2000 (File 2) - Box 1

Oskar Spate; some letters from his second wife Browning and Hartley, Browning's daughter

Correspondence, 1961 - 2003 (File 3) - Box 1

From Daphne Spate; brothers Andrew (Andy) and Alastair (Asti)

Correspondence, 1951 -1975 (File 4) - Box 1

From Virginia to Daphne Spate and her brothers and Oskar

Correspondence, 1956 - 2005 (File 5) - Box 1

From other family members, including Spate and husband grandmothers

Correspondence and papers, 1913 - 2005 (File 6) - Box 1

Eulogies and biographical material for Oskar and Daphne Spate; letters to Daphne from others (including possibly Nettie Palmer); miscellaneous papers and condolence letters Daphne Spate

Diaries, 1952 - 1956 (File) - Box 2

7 packets comprising 16 bound diaries and 3 loose leaf diaries

Series. Correspondence

Andrej Drescher, 1975 -1978 (File 1) - Box 3
A D Hope, 1962 - 1985 (File 2) - Box 3

Includes undated Ms "The Lamp and the Jar"); Kim Howells

Clement Meadmore, c. 1961 - 1982 (File 3) - Box 3

Includes correspondence, exhibition ephemera, critical text by Virginia Spate, obituaries

Bernard Smith, Daniel Thomas, 1961-1996 (File 4) - Box 3
General correspondence, 1960s - 1980s (File 5) - Box 3

Includes from N S Kee, John Olsen, Robert Hughes, Phillip Franz, Clem Christesen, John Stringer, Samba Bo, Ursula Hoff; Charles Mitchell, Janet Dawson Boddy, James Joll, Peter de Francia, Ros Angell; Penny Pollitt, Frank Whitford, P Joannides, Michael Kirby, Gough Whitlam, Ministere de la Culture et de la Communications, Bea Miller, Robyn Cooper, Peter Taylor, Judith Wechsler, Charles Mitchell, Peter Myersjjm

General correspondence, 1990s (File 6) - Box 3

Includes from Maeve Woods, Tom Mitchell, Gerry Ackerman, Rex Butler, Maryane Stevens, Michael Rosenthal, Catharine Carver, Bronwyn Bancroft, James Joll, Margaret Nicolle, Robyn Woods, Angelica Zander Rudenstine, Leon Paroissien, Ian Burn, Timothy Potts, Jenepher Duncan

General correspondence (File 7) - Box 3

Including correspondence with people who believe they own Monet paintings

General correspondence (File 8) - Box 3

Series. Germano Facetti, 1968-1999

Correspondence and papers from Facetti to Spate; graphic design miscellany; CV material; letters seeking work in Australia; correspondence with others concerning his archive; obituaries.This series of letters from Germano Facetti includes empty envelopes retained by Spate. Facetti's envelopes often included touches of humour, such as two apparent hands on the envelope, one addressed to Spate at a luxury European hotel, for example; the second 'forwarding' the letter to her Sydney address. Facetti also used humorous pseudonyms such as senders 'Virginia and Orlando Woolf', from an address in 'Slurry Hills'; Mr G Fawcett, or Monsieur de Cadillac. Facetti also reused business envelopes, e.g. from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority. The empty envelopes have been retained.

Correspondence and papers, 1968-1969 (File 1) - Box 4
Correspondence and papers, 1971-1982 (File 2) - Box 4
Correspondence and papers, 1983-1985 (File 3) - Box 4
Correspondence and papers, 1986 (File 4) - Box 4
Correspondence and papers, 1986 (File 5) - Box 4
Correspondence and papers, 1987 (File 6) - Box 4
Correspondence and papers, 1987 (File 7) - Box 4
Correspondence and papers, 1988 (File 8) - Box 4
Correspondence and papers, 1989 (File 9) - Box 4
Correspondence and papers, 1995-1999 (File 10) - Box 4

Class. Consignment received June 2019

This consignment comprises further correspondence from Germano Facetti and miscellaneous personal papers relating to exhibitions, speeches, lectures and writings

Series. Germano Facetti

Correspondence and papers (File 11) - Box 6
Correspondence and papers (File 12) - Box 6
Correspondence and papers (File 13) - Box 6
Correspondence and papers (File 14) - Box 6
2 audio cassettes titled 'Torino 26/07/2007, 2007 (File 15) - Box 6

Series. Other miscellaneous personal papers

Miscellaneous papers, 1960 - 1982 (File 1) - Box 7

CV; newspaper clippings about Virginia Spate, including book reviews

Miscellaneous papers, 1956 - 2018 (File 2) - Box 7

Certificates: Melbourne Olympic Village staff identification; International Student Identification Card, 1967; Reader's tickets Bibliotheque Sainte-Genevieve Universite de Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale 1969; Program for Cambridge degree ceremony 12 December 1970 Master of Arts, New Hall; PhD Bryn Mawr; Australian Academy of the Humanities Fellowship 1981; 2001 Centenary medal; 2003 Chevalier de l'ordre des artes et des lettres; Correspondence relating to 2018 award of Companion in the order of Australia including letters of congratulation

Miscellaneous papers (File 3) - Box 7

Art ephemera, some with Virginia Spate's annotation or catalogue essays

Miscellaneous papers, 1944 - 1958 (File 4) - Box 7

School and university, child writing and art: King Alfred School, London, 1944-1946; Preshil Preparatory School, Kew, Victoria, 1944-45 (includes Stanford Binet test results); Canberra High School, 1955. Melbourne University: Fine Arts B essay 1958. Other miscellaneous material from this period; Old Alfredians

Series. Research papers from University of Sydney

Lecture notes, speeches, exhibition launches, etc, 1994 - 2016 (File 1) - Box 11

Includes International Womens Day; Peace and Nuclear war; 1997 Tom Roberts retrospective; 2005, La France Profonde; 2009 Does Monet Still Matter, at Te Papa; 2010 Paths to Abstraction Art Gallery of NSW; Tin Sheds Art workshop

Exhibitions, 1996 - 2005 (File 2) - Box 11

Grace Cossington Smith exhibition NGA 2005; Turner exhibition NGA 1996; Clarice Beckett exhibition, S H Ervin Gallery, 1999

In memoriam speeches and writing, 1992 - 1996 (File 3) - Box 11

Ian Burn, including Looking at Seeing and Reading exhibition; Michael Lloyd; Sir Joseph Burke; Franz Phillip

Other lectures and writings, 1962 - 2005 (File 4) - Box 11

Includes Counterfactual: What If There Had Been a School of Figure Painting in Colonial Sydney?; The Motif of the Letter in Seventeenth Century Dutch painting, Bryn Mawr college; Valedictory lecture: The Dream of the Body as Nature

Study leave applications, reports etc, 1986 - 2003 (File 5) - Box 11
Slade Chair, University of Cambridge, 1998 (File 6) - Box 11

Class. Consignment received July 2019

This consignment comprises research papers from University of Sydney including for Metamorphoses: Woman, Man and Nature in Nineteenth Century French Painting; Lecture notes and course outlines; speeches; administrative records; correspondence and papers concerning the Power Institute; Monet and Japan Exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia; research papers relating to other Projects including Kettle's Yard Gallery, University of Cambridge, Paris Exhibition, 1760-1860s, Tom Roberts Centenary Festival, Inverell, NSW.

Series. Research papers from University of Sydney

Spate's research files include work on two unfinished books - a book on Cezanne's Bathers, and 'The Big Book', intended to be titled Metamorphoses: Woman, Man and Nature in 19th Century French Painting.

The 'Big Book' - Metamorphoses: Woman, Man and Nature in Nineteenth Century French Painting (File 1-4) - Box 8

Rooted to the earth: the peasant in 19th century French Art; illustrations; miscellaneous research notes, including from overseas travel; chapter outlines

The 'Big Book' - Metamorphoses: Woman, Man and Nature in Nineteenth Century French Painting (File 5-7) - Box 9

Rooted to the earth: the peasant in 19th century French Art; illustrations; miscellaneous research notes, including from overseas travel; chapter outlines

Lecture notes and course outlines (File 8) - Box 9

The sculpture of the twentieth century originally contained in a folder labelled Geoff Legge

Lecture notes and course outlines (File 9) - Box 9

Themes in European Art

Lecture notes, speeches, exhibition launches, etc, 1971 - 1992 (File 1) - Box 10

Realism and Impressionism; Oz Art Now; Prints; Art and the French Revolution; Social purpose in architecture; Leger symposium, Courtauld Instititute, 1971; 1987 Perspecta Power symposium; 1988 Adelaide Festival keynote 'At the head of the cove, a stream of clear water; George Gittoes 'Heavy Industry' exhibition; Wharfies' mural; launch of Joan Kerr's Dictionary of Australian Artists; The Paintings of John Power

Themes in European Art (File 2) - Box 10
Realism and Impressionism (File 3) - Box 10
Lecture notes and course outlines (File 4) - Box 10

Series. Correspondence, administrative issues

Correspondence and papers concerning the Power Institute, 1997 - 2003 (File 1) - Box 12

Including status of Director and Power Professor of Fine Art; establishment of the Museum of Contemporary Art, including with University Chancellor and Vice Chancellor; Bernard Smith, Leon Paroissien and Joan Kerr

Visit by Irving and Marilyn Aronberg Lavin (File 2) - Box 12
Student essays (File 3) - Box 12

By Gemma Dickson on Frantisek Kupka and Rachel Stiles on Toulouse Lautrec; water colour by Denise [?] Rubin, Tin Sheds 'Bond' exhibition 1988

General correspondence, 1979 - 2003 (File 4) - Box 12

Sent or received, Power Institute; includes a 1983 letter sent from Risdon Prison to University colleagues following Spate's arrest during the Franklin River protests

Series. Monet and Japan Exhibition, National Gallery of Australia, 1993 - 2003

Correspondence with NGA staff (File 1) - Box 13

Including Michael Lloyd, Ted Gott, Betty Churcher, Bryan Kennedy, Ian Froud; also Musee d'Orsay and Margaret Throsby

Lecture notes, mostly relating to Monet and Japan (File 2) - Box 13
Catalogue drafts and publicity material (File 3) - Box 13
Research notes, primary sources (File 4) - Box 13
Correspondence with NGA curatorial staff Gary Hickey and Lyn Conybeare (File 5) - Box 13
Catalogue preparation, wall texts etc (File 6) - Box 13

Series. Monet; Cezanne

Miscellaneous Monet, 1978 - 1997 (File 1) - Box 14

Earlier projects, including correspondence with Thames & Hudson re The Colour of Time; reviews of Spate's books on Monet

Monet: the Colour of Time, 1993 (File 2) - Box 14

Reviews and letters of congratulation, including from Gough Whitlam and Nikos Frangos; Mitchell Prize

Stephen Wilson: Monet Master of Colour, 1992 (File 3) - Box 14

Master of Fine Arts dissertation

Cezanne: Bathers, 1978 - 2010 (File 4) - Box 14

Lectures, including Cardiff conference, Singapore, Columbia, AAANZ, Masterclass NGA

Cezanne Later interpretations after 1945 (File 5) - Box 14

Early works pre-Bathers

Cezanne sources and research notes (File 6) - Box 14
Sources and research notes (File 1-3) - Box 15

Includes a file titled Chronologies, dating which also includes material on Zola. Article on the Bathers and notes on monographs in Bathers. Exhibitions, criticism, salons Chapter 3; Appendix 1 Dating Cezanne's Bathers; Bibliography

Cezanne exhibitions etc. Chapter 3 (File 4) - Box 15
Cezanne Chronologies dating (File 5) - Box 15
Cezanne Sources and research notes (File 16) - Box 15
Cezanne illustrations (File 1-7) - Box 16
Cezanne sources (File 1-4) - Box 17

Dessins, cahiers; Rewald catalogue raisonne; Chappuis; Basel. Research notes, themes and drafts, ch 3; Misc. research notes, drafts and images. Book proposal: Metamorphosis – Subject and process in Cezanne's bathers. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Cezanne and Beyond exhibition 2009

Book proposal (File 5) - Box 17

CD Rom. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Cezanne and Beyond exhibition 2009

Series. Other Projects

Kettle's Yard Gallery, University of Cambridge, 1976 (File 1) - Box 18
Kettle's Yard Gallery, University of Cambridge, 1976 (File 2) - Box 18
Paris Exhibition, 1760-1860s, 1980 (File 3) - Box 18

Chiefly illustrations and floor plans, possibly for the Australian Gallery Directors' Council exhibition, The Revolutionary Decades

Aboriginal Artists Speak, Power Institute, 1991 (File 4) - Box 18
The Aboriginal Memorial, National Gallery of Australia, 1991 (File 5) - Box 18
Tom Roberts Centenary Festival, Inverell, NSW, 1996 (File 6) - Box 18
Painters in Detail series: Degas, 1999 (File 7) - Box 18

Correspondence with Ljiljana Baird, MQ Publications

Series. Research files

Research files (File 1-6) - Box 19

On topics including: Romanticism; Water; Nature early 19th Century; Natural history: Second Empire; Natural sciences; Science 1830s-40s; Nature misc; Schama

Research files (File 1-7) - Box 20

On topics including: Forests, Trees, Forest inhabitants; Flowers; Body, Gender, Sexuality the Nude; Women; La femme L'homme, Gender; Nudes in the landscape; Goncourts; Social utopianism 1830s-40s

Research files (File 1-5) - Box 21

On topics including: Paris Salon Criticism 1800-1894; including correspondence with research assistants; Nu au Salon 1888-1990 (nu au Louvre – Cezanne); Salons etc 1850s criticism art history; Contemporary occasional writings 1909-1914; Salon catalogues 1905-1914. Contents of Soirees Sep. 1912 -Aug 1914; Montjoie, 1913-14; Poeme et drame Nov 1912 - Sep 1914. Artist/writer files including: Balzac; Baudelaire; Corot; Courbet; Delacroix, Ingres; Hugo; Huet; Isabey; Michelet; Millet; Rousseau, Sensier; Zola

Research files (File 1-4) - Box 22

On topics including miscellaneous artists Barbizon, Dupre; Grandville, Nanteuil; Second Republic, Third Republic, July Monarchy; French writers; History/historians; Larousse Second Empire; Realism; Futurism for Boccioni; Kupka: copies of L'assiette au Beurre, nos 41 Janvier 1902, 159 Avril 1904, 162 Mai 1904; and Spahis et Turcos par Cham, Paris Maison Martinet

Series. Images and illustrations

Lecture slides, Postcards, unsorted illustrations (File) - Box 23

Class. Consignment received September 2019

This consignment comprises miscellaneous research notes and files including research resources; notes for bibliography; Card file with list of key words/concepts on visual arts in Sydney and Melbourne press 1880 - 1900 and posters.

Series. Miscellaneous

Miscellaneous research notes and files (File 1,1a- 5) - Box 24

Unsorted photocopied research resources; Notes for bibliography; Travel information: hotels, guidebooks, maps, airline tickets and undated diary notes of a trip to Italy

Card file (File) - Box 25

Preliminary list of key words/concepts on visual arts in Sydney and Melbourne press 1880 - 1900

Series. Oversize material

"A book for my family" London, Christmas 1965 (File 1) - Folio-Box 26

With additional inscription "not to be seen by art historians"

Copy of French publication Le Charivari, 1840 (File 2) - Folio-Box 26
Poster for The Slade Lectures (File 3) - Folio-Box 26

Michaelmas Term, 1998: Professor Virginia Spate Metamorphoses: Woman, Man and Nature in Nineteenth Century French Art

Note written by Germano Facetti to Spate on the interior of a cardboard box (File 4) - Folio-Box 26
Posters for Victoria etcetera: a film by Germano Facetti and Paul Gori (File 5) - Folio-Box 26
Poster 1980-1981 Concorso di idee mostre, spettaccoli e conveginia Commune di Roma Inventario di una Psichiatria (File 6) - Folio-Box 26
Photograph of the Inverell event, autographed by Virginia Spate, Jack Mundey, Max Cullen, Sheridan Burke and others (File 7) - Folio-Box 26
Poster mounted on board for: L'esprit Nouveau: art architecture music sport film theatre dance modern life exhibition at Kettle's Yard Gallery March-April 1978, 1978 (File 8) - Map-Folio 27

Class. Consignment received December 2019

This consignment comprises annotated book chapter drafts and correspondence and papers relting to Friends of the Queen Victoria Building, Black Wattle Studios and general correspondence.

Series. Miscellaneous

Annotated typed book chapter drafts (File 1-4) - Box 28
Book chapter drafts (File 1-3) - Box 29

Separated Materials

Illustrations; research notes

Friends of the Queen Victoria Building (File 4) - Box 29

Correspondence and papers

Black Wattle Studios (File 5) - Box 29

Correspondence and papers

General correspondence (File 6) - Box 29