Landscape with Night and Day, 1989 signed 'William Robinson' lower right oil on canvas 147.5 x 193cm (58 1/16 x 76in).
PROVENANCE: Purchased from Ray Hughes Gallery, Sydney in November 1989
EXHIBITED: William Robinson, Ray Hughes Gallery, Sydney, 28 October - 22 November 1989, cat. no. 11. The Laverty Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 20 June - 23 August 1998 William Robinson: The Revelation of Landscape, National Trust S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney, 11 January - 2 March 2003; Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, Victoria, 28 March - 18 May 2003; University of South Australia Art Museum, Adelaide, 27 February - 3 April 2004 William Robinson: The Transfigured Landscape, Queensland Univeristy of Technology Art Museum and William Robinson Gallery, Brisbane, 17 April - 14 August 2011
LITERATURE: Lynn Fern, William Robinson, Craftsman House, Sydney, 1995, pl. 35, p.132 (illus.) titled as 'Moonlight Landscape' Anne Loxley, 'The Laverty Collection', Art and Australia, Spring 1996, vol. 34, no. 1, p.66 (illus.) Lou Klepac, William Robinson - Paintings 1987 - 2000, The Beagle Press, Sydney 2001, pp.60 - 61 (illus.) Desmond MacAulay and Bettina MacAulay, William Robinson, The Transfigured Landscape, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane and Piper Press, Sydney, 2011, p.34 (illus.)
This painting might almost be seen as a rehearsal for the major Robinson picture in this auction, Blue Pools' (2000). Like that work it charts the transition from daylight to darkness on a single canvas. However, this work dates from a decade earlier, when Robinson's forms were more stylised and clear-cut. His trees are 'types' rather than individual specimens, while the landscape itself is divided up into sharply defined patterns, as if seen from the sky. A row of stars curls down the right-hand side of the painting like a serpent, an effect presumably caused by reflections in a stream.
Over the following decade Robinson would reinvent this scenario with amazing frequency, but the essential elements of the later works are already present. Those rays of sunshine that pierce the forest like torch beams are among his most original contributions to Australian landscape. Frederick McCubbin tried something similar in a 1911 painting called Violet and gold, in which a ray of sunlight surges through a wall of trees. The difference is that Robinson uses multiple rays to create a more intricately structured composition. An even greater difference is Robinson's decisive approach to colour and form. Five years earlier he had been virtually unknown, but here his growing mastery is apparent.