STREETON, Arthur (1867-1943)
The Yarra near Heidelberg, 1891.
Signed and dated 'Streeton 91' lower right.
Oil on Canvas
Ivon Murdoch (1892-1964) and Alma Murdoch (nee Anderson), 'Wantabadgery East,' N.S.W.; Stuart Murdoch, son of the above (d.1990) and Patricia Murdoch (nee McKay), 'Wantabadgery East,' then 'Springvale,' near Wagga Wagga, N.S.W.; Estate Late Patricia Osborne (Murdoch), Wagga Wagga, N.S.W.
This recently rediscovered work, painted just two years after the seminal 9x5 exhibition of 1889, depicts a well-dressed family arriving for a day's fishing on the Yarra, with the father holding a fishing rod, his wife and child alongside him at the water's edge.
It is closely related to 'The Bathers,' of the same year (illus.) currently in the collection of the Queensland Art Gallery. 1891 proved to be an important year in Streeton's career. Living at Eaglemont periodically, he had the use of his great friend Tom Roberts' studio in Grosvenor Chambers, Collins St, Melbourne whilst Roberts was away painting in rural N.S.W. At that time, Victoria, and Melbourne in particular, was entering a period of depression after a decade of growth in the 1880s; and Streeton was set to depart for Sydney in September of that year, where he was to paint the major work 'Fire's On,' Lapstone Tunnel (in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales).
This work is not recorded in the existing literature for the artist, but might have formed part of the 'Art Union of Pictures, by Arthur Streeton,' raffle, with pictures on view at Buxtons Art Gallery in Swanston Street, which presented 30 prizes (invitation illus. - image courtesy Douglas Stewart Fine Books). The Argus, May 28th 1891 states: 'A private view of a number of pictures and studies, which are about to be disposed of by art union, is to be held this afternoon at the studio of Mr Arthur Streeton... Mr Streeton's landscape studies, made for the most part in the open air, in the neighbourhood of Heidelberg, reproduce general effects of atmosphere, light, and colour, and the broad aspects of the scenery, rather than specific details, and suggest more than they describe".
Also, Table Talk, Friday 15th May 1891: "The First Picknicker is the title given to a spirited sketch of Heidelberg scenery, of which this artist has made a number of small studies all worthy of mention as being harmonious in colouring, the artist, however, not troubling much about composition, but painting Nature exactly as he finds her... the most important picture which has so far occupied Mr Streeton's attention is The Bathers, an autumn landscape, which he commenced recently at Heidelberg... It is Mr Streeton's intention to dispose of his works in a few weeks by an art union for which he is already making preparations. Mr Streeton has fixed the price of tickets at five shillings each. Spring, his large pastoral work, will be the first prize".
Related works: Tom Roberts, 'A Quiet Stream (Heidelberg)' c.1888-90, oil on canvas, 25.5x46cm (illus.).
Arthur Streeton, 'The Bathers,' 1891, oil on canvas, 31x62.5cm (illus.) n.b. this work signed in near identical manner.
Fred Kruger (1831-1888), The Yarra - Heidelberg,' albumen silver photograph, c.1870s/80s (illus.); and Fred Kruger (1831-1888), 'Scene on the Yarra Yarra flats,' albumen silver photograph, c.1870/80s (illus.)