Morning on the Harbour, Hunters Hill 1951 signed and dated 'L. Rees / 51' lower left oil on canvas 78.3 x 108.5cm (30 13/16 x 42 11/16in).
PROVENANCE H. W. MacGregor. Adelaide Australian Paintings, Christies, Sydney, 6 October 1976, lot 340 Joseph Brown Gallery, Melbourne Private collection, Melbourne
EXHIBITED The Royal Visit: Loan Exhibition of Australian Paintings, Art Gallery of South Australia, National Gallery of South Australia, 1954 Spring Exhibition, Joseph Brown Gallery, Melbourne 17-30 October 1979, no. 95 (illus.)
The year 1951 was notably successful for Lloyd Rees, having won both the Ku-ring-gai Jubilee Art Prize and the Commonwealth Jubilee Art Prize, as well as the prestigious Wynne Prize the previous year for his beautiful Sydney landscape, The Harbour from McMahons Point. In 1951, Rees also submitted two works, alongside artists including Charles Conder, William Dobell, E Phillips Fox and Hugh Ramsay, for the important 'Jubilee Exhibition of Australian Art,' which travelled throughout the country for the Commonwealth Jubilee Celebrations.
Lloyd Rees was a member of the Northwood group at this time and would meet once a week to paint with John and Marie Santry, Roland Wakelin and George Lawrence, in the North Ryde area. Rees' love of the harbour and its 'bays and vistas, its sculpted foreshores and russet green vegetation, and later its buildings caught in the golden light with rows and rows of them defining the contours of the hills, and the whole bathed in an opalescence of colour never previously seen...' had in his first glimpse in 1916 'entered his heart never to leave it again.' And so it became the inspiration for countless studies in pencil, pen and ink, watercolour and pastel, and the subject of perhaps his greatest works in oil.
The magnificent painting, Morning on the Harbour, Hunters Hill, produced in 1951, is a detailed panoramic view of spectacular water views at Hunters Hill. From his vantage point, Rees effortlessly captures the gentle curves of the bay, silent movement of boats on the water and of smouldering chimneys in the distance. Depth is found in the accentuated crevices of exposed rock and in dark shallows of the water; the soft glow of morning light descending through a cloudy sky. The artist's fluid brush infuses a lyricism into the scene and allows the viewer an insight into his enduring affection for the harbour foreshores and their unrivalled beauty.
Throughout his life, Rees drew constant inspiration from nature. He believed Sydney possessed some of the greatest sculptural forms in the world, integral to its natural landscape and Rees was never short of a pleasing subject. This is clear when he describes, ' I feel Sydney is a realm. When coming back from the South Coast and through the Western Suburbs and Ryde, suddenly you are looking down into bays, into a different world. The harbour does something its atmosphere and forms it is a realm in which I can sink myself.' The immediacy of Rees' visual experience was of prime importance in his realistic interpretations of light, colour and form. Morning on the Harbour, Hunters Hill 1951, is a testament to the artist's lifelong affair in recreating the grandeur of this natural landscape.
1 Rees, Lloyd. (1979) Lloyd Rees: A Tribute to Sydney, Sydney: The Macquarie Galleries, p.3 2 Ibid, p 14.