Maurice Namatjira, youngest son of Albert Namatjira, created a delicate and decorative body of paintings, often including traditional dot and line infill in a decorative, but unobtrusive way. He romanticised the views sometimes with accentuated colour and decorative pen-work. He painted locations between Mt Sonder and Palm Valley and Alice Springs.
He painted seriously from around 1959. By the late 1960s they were more mellow in appearance as lemon yellow gave way to warmer yellows and yellow ochre, perhaps in a mood of fond nostalgia. He was a significant painter in the Hermannsburg School. Sadly, Maurice died when he was one month short of his fortieth birthday.
Maurice was Western Arrernte, Subsection (Skin) Peltharre. Maurice married Epana/Yvonne, a Loritja woman. Artist Kevin Namatjira is their son. (R/W 1957) As at 30.6.66 they had four children. At this time of the Census of Wards in winter, Maurice was at Number 1 Artists Camp Alice Springs with Joshua Ebatarinja and Arnulf Ebatarinja while their wives and children were at home in Hermannsburg.
Claude and Rosina Panka were also at the camp. (Census of Wards 30.6.66). The adults, then, lived rough at the camp, probably on the Todd River, while the children with their mothers were in better housing at Hermannsburg. Temperature records show that the minimum temperature at the date of the census in Alice Springs was about 6 degrees.
It was difficult to estimate dates of the author’s collection of paintings by Maurice as few have well evidenced dates, and his style did not change much. Infill style seems unchanged after earliest in the author’s collection. There are no Araluen Maurices in Albert’s style. He painted seriously from around 1959 and was most active in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Red Rock Faces, Central Australia, 1959 (watercolour on paper; signed lower centre: MAURICE NAMATJIRA. Araluen AC 2008:033). Location appears to be the Amphitheatre in Palm Valley.
Decorations in the MacDonnells, 1959 (watercolour on paperboard; 38 x 54 cm; Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory NAM-0213). Note influence of horizontal system for achieving perspective including original use of warm washes foreground (and red rocks), lemon mid-ground and blues behind. This is an example of an early painting for Maurice.