Tom and Elizabeth Hunter were generous donors to the Art Gallery of South Australia. As former director Ron Radford describes, they 'are the least known ... They both avoided attention, giving quietly and anonymous. Thanks to their only child, Alastair, we are now fully able to appreciate the extent of not only their generosity but also their connoisseurship.
This handsome and extensive publication had one very clear intention: The purpose of this book is to catalogue and describe the items of incontrovertible artistic merit and beauty which have been contributed by one family for the pleasure and education of the people living in and visiting the state of South Australia.
The book includes texts by Michael Abbott, AO, QC, Dr Ron Radford, AM, Dick Richards and Christopher Menz. Additional essays by curators, James Bennett, Tracey Lock, Russell Kelty and Rebecca Evans examine aspects of the collection in great detail and make connections with other works in the Gallery's collection. The chapters themselves are diverse, reflecting the wide-ranging collecting interests of the Hunters. The topics covered include Australian art, European decorative arts, Asian trade ceramics, Chinese export porcelain and Japanese art, along with a chapter devoted to their fine collection of Buddhas and Clarice Beckett. Also included is an entertaining chapter written by Alastair entitled 'Memories of an art and antique collector orphan'.
Sumptuously illustrated, the book is principally 'about the joy of collecting'. All the works are illustrated, with a comprehensive list of the works in order of their acquisition also provided. The book has succeeded in celebrating and honouring the legacy of this sophisticated Adelaide couple who: never sought recognition or personal advancement [but] fully understood the role of the Gallery as a heritage institution, one committed to nuturing public appreciation of the great historical traditions of Western and Asian art.