National Geographic : 1966 Feb
The great artist's grave lies just outside Alice. The headstone bears a text from the First Book of Corinthians 15:10-"by the grace of God I am what I am"-in Albert's own language, and the simple inscription: ALBERT NAMATJIRA BORN AT HERMANNSBURG, JULY 28, 1902 DIED AT ALICE SPRINGS, AUGUST 8, 1959 I found Rex Battarbee, the artist who fos tered the Namatjira art movement, in a pleas ant house in a wide street by the side of the Todd River. His house overlooks the gum trees that crowd the dry riverbed. Inside, the rooms shine with his own glowing water colors alongside those of native artists. Rex Battarbee, born at Warrnambool in Victoria, severely wounded fighting as a 248 member of the Australian Imperial Forces in France in World War I, told me that he start ed coming to the Centre to paint during the 1930's. He took Albert Namatjira as his camel boy. Albert developed a great interest in the white man's paintings of the color-splashed Centre. "Then one day," Rex told me, "Albert said very quietly, 'I could do that. Just teach me how to prepare the paints.' I showed him. He learned fast. We used water colors-no oils; the dust and the bush flies stick to oils here. Within a fortnight he was painting tolerably well, and he went on from there." Gradually Albert's gift found apprecia tion beyond Hermannsburg Mission. At a 1938 exhibition in Melbourne, his paintings sold for as much as six guineas (then $25).