Reading the Rooms: Behind the paintings of the State Library of NSW
Edited by Richard Neville, Rachel Franks


Hardback | Dec 2023 | NewSouth | 9781742238012 | 360pp | 300x240mm | GEN | AUD$89.99, NZD$99.99

The incredible painting collection of the State Library of New South Wales is documented for the first time.

The State Library of New South Wales holds an unrivalled collection of oil paintings. Unlike an art gallery where the focus is usually on aesthetic excellence, the rationale behind the Library’s collecting is broad and often eclectic. It features works from artists such as Conrad Martens and John Glover, and others of variable quality, execution and skill, with a range of formats and diversity of subjects that tell us much about Australia.

Reading the Rooms reveals this little-known — but rich and highly significant — collection. It delivers a fascinating and authoritative account of hundreds of paintings, and a compelling argument for their importance.

‘A piquant sense of history’s stones being lifted, letting the sun shine once more on lives and times long gone, is the thread that runs through this gorgeous book. Gifted researchers and writers have done all the work. We have only to luxuriate in the images, and wonder at the mysteries and surprises contained within their eloquently related backstories.’ — Elizabeth Fortescue

‘A wonderful companion to the rich, diverse and sometimes overlooked collections of the State Library, this book and its trove of faces, places and talents is testament to the vision of state librarians, past and present, their curators, their generous benefactors and generations of scholarship. In its beautifully illustrated pages and through new analyses of artworks both familiar and (often) unfamiliar, the complex, sometimes difficult and always intriguing history of New South Wales and its communities emerges in fresh and engaging ways.’ — Mark Ledbury

'This is a book to read in detail.' — Susan Wyndham, The Sydney Morning Herald/The Age