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Frederick (Fred) Ronald Williams 1927–1982

If you love Art of impeccable provenance, the Art you want is at Galeria Aniela.

Fred Williams is one of the most important Australian artists. His contemporary panoramic landscapes were inspired by the vast Australian land. Williams developed a ground-breaking, expressionistic style of seeing Australian landscape. Williams portrayed his landscape vision in an individual, bird's-eye view an abstract representation. Highly valued internationally,

Fred Williams work is held in important museums including Tate Gallery London, Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, National Gallery of Victoria. Fred Williams died in 1982, aged 55. Williams left a limited body of work, much smaller than Brett Whiteley, Arthur Boyd, and John Perceval.


Awards Biography

Billabong River, 1976
Oil on canvas
122.5 x 182.5 cm
Price: SOLD

Fred Williams is a Blue-chip artist with a solid reputation for creating art that increases in value over time.  Blue-chip art usually sells for the highest price at auctions and become a valuable investment. In August 2023 auction house Smith & Singer sold Masons Falls for $3,190,909.


Please contact us if you consider buying or selling an original work of Fred Williams, Arthur Boyd, Brett Whiteley, Charles Blackman, Garry Shead, John Perceval or another significant work of fine art. 

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Fred Williams Biography

Frederick Ronald Williams OBE (23 January 1927 – 22 April 1982)

Fred Williams was the major landscape artist, Australia’s most important painter and printmaker.

Williams had the exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1977 - 'Landscapes of a Continent' and seventy solo exhibitions during his career in Australian galleries.

From 1943 to 1947 he studied at the National Gallery School, Melbourne, at first part-time and then full-time from 1945 at the age of 18. The Gallery School was traditional and academic, with a long and prestigious history. He also began lessons under George Bell the following year, who had his own art school in Melbourne. This continued until 1950. Bell was a conservative modern artist but a very influential teacher.

Between 1952 and 1956, Williams studied part-time at the Chelsea School of Art, London (now Chelsea College of Art and Design) and in 1954 he did an etching course at the Central School of Arts and Crafts. Williams  returned to Melbourne in 1956.

Williams work included in an exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, and 'Australian Painting: Colonial, Impressionism, Modern' at the Tate Gallery.

As an artist concerned with form over subjectivity, Williams approach struck a jarring note against the unity of many of his close associates such as John BrackArthur Boyd and Charles Blackman, the authors of the famous ‘Antipodean’ manifesto of 1959.

William’s work was excluded from their major exhibition. As heirs to the expressionist tradition, the Antipodeans lauded a spontaneous, improvised approach to painting and saw the function of art as vested in its expressive potential. They had little time for - and, in fact, denounced - the 'new' art emerging from Europe, the influences which were increasingly informing Williams' development.

On his return to Australia, Williams saw the aesthetic potential of the Australian bush in its inherent plasticity. His interest in finding an aesthetic 'language' with which to express the very un-European Australian landscape. This was grounded in establishing a pictorial equivalent to the overwhelmingly vast, primarily flat landscape, in which the traditional European relationship of foreground to background breaks down, necessitating a complete re-imagining of compositional space. In this, Williams looked to the approach taken by Australian Aboriginal artists.

Williams did this by tilting the landscape up against the picture plane, so that frequently the only indicator of horizontal recession is the presence of a horizon line, or where clumps of trees huddle closer together towards the horizon, suggesting recession. Where no horizon is visible, the landscape runs fully parallel to the picture plane, as in the major You Yangs series of the mid-1960s. Here, calligraphic knots of pigment indicate the presence of single trees against the earth, as if seen from the air.

In 1960, Williams was invited to enter for the Helena Rubenstein Travelling Art Scholarship, the richest and most prestigious art prize at the time with an award of £1000 plus £300 travel expenses aimed at giving the winner overseas experience.

Five paintings were required for his entry and he selected Landscape with a steep road (1957),  Landscape with a building I (c. 1957–58), The forest pond (c. 1959–60), Sherbrooke Forest (1960) and The St George River (1960).

Williams won in 1963 and it proved to be a turning point in his career which, according to fellow artist Jan Senbergs, brought Williams wide acclaim, especially from many influential curators and critics.

Sydney art dealer Rudy Komon took Williams on as one of his key artists which enabled Williams to discontinue his part-time work with a Melbourne picture-framer and paint full-time.

In 1969, Williams started using a horizontal strip format in his landscape paintings in order to present different aspects of one scene on the same sheet.

In 1970, Williams produced a group of four large strip format gouache-on-paper paintings called the West Gate Bridge series showing the half-constructed West Gate Bridge over the Yarra River in Melbourne.

A section of the bridge collapsed on 15 October 1970, while it was still under construction, killing thirty-five workers. In his Beachscape with bathers Queenscliff I-IV series from 1971, Williams painted from the top of a cliff overlooking the beach during a seaside holiday. By 1971 he had developed the technique extensively, moving from a vertical format to a horizontal format.

In March 1974, Williams travelled to Erith Island in Bass Strait with the historians Stephen Murray-Smith and Ian Turner, and fellow painter Clifton Pugh. Poor weather prevented Williams and his friends from leaving the island when they had intended. When the weather broke Williams painted a number of gouaches, including Beachscape, Erith Island I and II which employ the horizontal strip format.

The Beachscape, Erith Island pictures show the point where the sea joins the land depicted as if looking down from above in the form of four strips.

Williams recorded the event in his diary from 27–28 March 1974, "I do 'strip' paintings of the beach using sand glued on – but the wind has worn me to a 'frazzle' … My final half doz. strip paintings are my best."

In May 1976, while Williams and his wife Lyn were visiting Paris and Bologna, many of Williams's paintings and all gouaches stored at the Barrett Malt Factory in Richmond were damaged by a fire.

In 1976, Williams flew over the Northern Territory at night on his way to an art fair in BolognaItaly. He saw lines of bushfires burning and later that year produced the twelve-sheeted gouache series, Bushfire in Northern Territory.

In February 1979, Williams visited the Lal Lal Falls on the Moorabool River to the west of Melbourne near Ballarat and painted the Lal Lal polyptych, a four panel painting that he regarded as a single work.

The successive canvases of the polyptych depict the changes in light on the waterfall and the surrounding landscape.

Williams painted the last of his major landscapes, the four panel Waterfall polyptych (oil on canvas, each 183.0 cm x 152.5 cm), in his studio in 1979 based on the Lal Lal polyptych.

He described the studio painting as "a major effort on my part" and it is regarded as one of the most important works of his career. Williams said that his "enthusiasm was fired" by Eugene von Guérard's Waterfall, Strath Creek from 1862.

In the last years of his career, Williams produced more landscape series with strong themes, his last being the Pilbara series (1979–81), which remained intact as it was acquired by Con-Zinc Rio Tinto Group, the mining company that had invited him to explore the arid north-west region of Australia.

In April 2006, Williams painting Upwey Landscape (1965) sold for $1,987,700 in one of the final auctions of Christie's in Australia , which at the time was the second highest price for any work sold at an Australian auction.

In September 2007, auction house Deutscher-Menzies broke their sales record with Williams' Landscape with Water Ponds (1965) selling for $1,860,000. The most expensive work sold at an Australian auction in 2009 was Williams' 1965 Evening Sky, Upwey, which sold for $1.15 million. Two of Williams' paintings, Dry Creek Bed, Werribee Gorge I (1977) and Drifting Smoke (1981) were included in Quintessence Editions Ltd.'s 2007 edition of 1001 Paintings You Must See Before You Die. 

Williams' work is also represented in William Splatt's 100 Masterpieces of Australian Landscape Painting. Williams Hummock in Landscape sold for $2,822,727, Lysterfield Landscape sold for 2,331,818 and You Yangs Landscape sold for $2,287,500.

In August 2023 auction house Smith & Singer sold Williams Masons Falls for the highest price  $3,190,909.


1963 Williams received a Helena Rubinstein Travelling Art Scholarship.

1966 Williams won the Wynne Prize for landscape painting Upwey

1976 he was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE),

1976 Williams won the Wynne Prize for landscape painting Mt. Kosciusko

1980 awarded a Doctorate of Law (Honoris Causa) by Monash University.



Auction Results


Price excl. GST

Masons Falls (1981)

Oil on canvas, signed 'Fred Williams' lower left

182.2 x 151.8 cm,

Est: $2,000,000-3,000,000, Smith & Singer, Important Australian Art, Sydney, 23/08/2023, Lot No. 23 


Hummock in Landscape, 1967

Oil on canvas, signed Fred Williams lower centre

153 x 122 cm, Est: $1,400,000-1,800,000, Deutscher and Hackett, Important Australian & International Fine Art, Melbourne, 15/07/2020, Lot No. 7 


Lysterfield Landscape, 1968 – 69

Oil on canvas, signed Fred Williams lower right

182.5 x 152.5 cm, Est: $1,600,000-2,000,000, Deutscher and Hackett, Important Australian + International Fine Art, Sydney, 14/09/2022, Lot No. 3 


You Yangs Landscape 1 1963

Oil on masonite, signed Fred Williams lower left

137 x 180.3 cm, Est: $1,500,000-2,000,000, Bonhams, The Grundy Collection, Sydney, 26/06/2013, Lot No. 49 


Hillside at Lysterfield II, 1967

Oil on canvas, signed Fred Williams lower centre

137.5 x 153 cm, Est: $1,500,000-2,000,000, Deutscher and Hackett, Twenty Classics of Australian Art + Important Australian & International Fine Art, Melbourne, 11/11/2020, Lot No. 8 


Landscape with Water Ponds, 1965-67

Oil on canvas, signed lower left: Fred Williams

153 x 184 cm, Est: $1,400,000-2,000,000, Deutscher~Menzies, Australian and International Fine Art, Sydney, 12/09/2007, Lot No. 38


Hillside Landscape No. 1 (1966)

Oil on canvas, signed Fred Williams lower centre,

152.5 x 121.4 cm, Est: $1,000,000-1,200,000, Sotheby's, Important Australian & International Art, Sydney, 11/05/2016, Lot No. 142 


Upwey Landscape

Oil on canvas, signed Williams 65' lower right

152.5 x 183 cm, Est: $500,000-800,000, Christies, Australian, International & Contemporary Art, Melbourne, 10/04/2006, Lot No. 54 



Oil and tempera on composition board, signed lower right and inscribed with title on the reverse

90.5 x 120.5 cm, Est: $500,000-700,000, Sotheby's, Important Australian Art, Sydney, 07/05/2007, Lot No. 29 


Mountain Creek, Mount Kosciusko (1976)

Oil on canvas, signed Fred Williams lower left

182.5 x 111.7 cm, Est: $800,000-1,200,000, Sotheby's, Important Australian Art, Sydney, 27/08/2019, Lot No. 11 


Water Pond in a Landscape II

Oil on canvas, signed lower centre; bears title on label on the reverse

152.5 x 122 cm, Est: $380,000-500,000, Sotheby's, Australian and International Art, Melbourne, 21/11/2006, Lot No. 5 


Lysterfield (1968)

Oil on canvas, signed Fred Williams lower centre left

121.9 x 152.5 cm, Est: GBP300,000-500,000, Christies, Australian Art, London, 26/09/2013, Lot No. 66 


Evening Sky, Upway, 1965

Oil on canvas, signed Fred Williams lower centre

135 x 130 cm, Est: $700,000-900,000, Deutscher and Hackett, Important Australian + International Fine Art, Melbourne, 25/11/2009, Lot No. 14 


Pool at Agnes Falls (1981)

Oil on canvas, signed 'Fred Williams' lower right

152 x 182.2 cm, Est: $800,000-1,200,000, Sotheby's, Important Australian Art, Melbourne, 14/05/2013, Lot No. 18 


Hillside I, 1965

Oil on linen, signed and dated '65 lower centre

134 x 152 cm, Est: $1,000,000-1,500,000, Mossgreen Auctions, The Estate of Ann Lewis, AO (Art lots only), Sydney, 07/11/2011, Lot No. 85 




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Combining a wide network of resources with expertise in Australian fine art, we assist clients in all aspects of acquisitions of fine art objects, shipping worldwide, ensuring impeccable provenance and quality, helping save time and money.


Founded in 1994, Galeria Aniela exhibited world-class artists and received celebrities including Sir David Attenborough, Cameron O’Reilly and Hon Bob Hawke, Australian Prime Minister. Galeria Aniela built a strong standing in Australia and internationally.

Video |Jamie Boyd, the Boyd family most important LIVING artist

The BOYD family exhibition in Galeria Aniela coup the front page Sydney Morning Herald, Australian National NEWS| ABC TV and Sunday Afternoon |ABC TV.

John Perceval Retrospective won the Australian National NEWS |ABC TV and Charles Blackman Retrospective conquer Australian Art Scream |SBS TV.


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The Boyd Family exhibition     The Best of BOYD exhibition     John Perceval AO Retrospective


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