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Commonwealth celebrations triumphal arch to be erected by the American citizens in Sydney

Date: 1900
Dimensions:
Overall: 837 x 635 mm
Medium: Watercolour on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Classification:Art
Object Name: Watercolour
Object No: 00004605

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    Description
    This watercolour is an original design of the triumphal arch to be erected in Sydney on behalf of the American citizens in Sydney for Commonwealth Day. The design of the decorative arch features the words 'America Hails the New Born Nation', and is suspended on four columns. At the top of the ornately carved and decorated arch is an eagle and the American flag.

    An inscription beneath the design states 'this is one of the drawings referred to in a contract dated 10 Dec 1900'.
    SignificanceThis illustration is a valuable record of the Triumphal Arch erected by the American citizens of Sydney for the Commonwealth Day celebrations of Australian Federation on 1 January 1901. By the week's end, the arches and decorations were taken down, leaving no permanent record of the celebrations. This illustration is not only a record of the temporary structures and celebrations, but highlights the shared patriotism of American citizens living in Sydney when a Federated Australia came into being.
    HistoryCommonwealth Day refers to 1 January 1901, the day when six Australian colonies became States of a new independent nation - the Australian Commonwealth. In cities and regional areas all over Australia, Commonwealth Day was celebrated with events, ceremonies and decorations. As the first British colony, Sydney was chosen to host the official inauguration ceremony of the Australian Commonwealth, with a procession through Sydney to Centennial Park.

    At 10am the Sydney Post Office tower bell chimed and the Commonwealth Day procession began. The parade was made up of carefully designed floats representing diverse Australian industry (carrying shearers, miners, dockers, furniture makers, painters, tailors, butchers, seamen, bakers, labourers, engineers, wharf labourers, stonemasons, etc), followed by heads of churches, Commonwealth dignitaries, police and military. The parade followed an 8km route from the Domain, along Macquarie, Bridge, Pitt, George, Park and College Streets, then along Oxford Street to Centennial Park where it reached the Federation Pavilion for the Inauguration Ceremony.

    Hundreds of thousands of people watched as the procession went by; passing under specially designed ceremonial arches along the way. The arches were designed and constructed by the Sydney Decoration Committee at £500 each, and represented industries such as wool and coal, as well as national groups including Germany, France and the United States. Funding for the arches came from Sydney, Melbourne and Newcastle, as well as local Sydney nationality groups.

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