Wimmera Landscape c.1963 signed 'arthur boyd' lower right oil on composition board 83.5 x 119.5cm (32 7/8 x 47 1/16in).
PROVENANCE Rudy Komon Gallery, Sydney Private collection, Sydney
Arthur Boyd, like other major Australian artists of his generation returned to major themes throughout his careers: one thinks of Nolan and Kelly or Williams and the You Yangs. Boyd's visit to the Wimmera in the late 1940's would be a defining point for the young artist's oeuvre and would see him return to the subject sporadically over the following decades.
He first visited the Wimmera district during the summer of 1948-49, when he travelled with his friend Jack Stephenson, a poet, to Horsham and painted the countryside near the Wimmera River. "He discovered there the hint of something that had drawn other painters of his generation, a subject tentatively recorded by only a few artists of the nineteenth century and touched upon by even fewer: the empty spaces of the great interior."1
Boyd had a fascination with placing his subjects within the confines of narrow valleys, stemming from his early works such as The expulsion 1947-48 (in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Syndey) or perhaps earlier, Glen Waverely 1936 (in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra). This structure would become the backdrop to many of his Bride paintings from his most celebrated series Love, death and marriage of a half cast.
Dissimilar to many of his 'Wimmera series, in which huge, open, yellow fields become grandiose spaces for Boyd to place a single human, bird or a horse-drawn carriage'2 Wimmera landscape c. 1963 focuses on the dwindling hills, rock strewn gully, dead gums and thorny undergrowth that subsume the traces of human presence.
1 Barry Pearce, Arthur Boyd: retrospective, Art Gallery of New SouthWales, The Beagle Press, 1999, p. 20 2 Sandra McGrath, The Artist and the Desert, Bay Books, Sydney , 1981, p. 72