Fishing at Dusk on the Shoalhaven, c.1983 signed 'Arthur Boyd' lower right oil on canvas 120.0 x 99.0cm (47 1/4 x 39in).
PROVENANCE Savill Galleries, Sydney (label attached verso) Private collection, Sydney
Considered to be one of the country's most significant painters, Arthur Boyd left Australia in 1959 to live in London and later Suffolk. Aside from the regular trips home to Australia between the years 1968 to 1981, he was based in the United Kingdom for over thirty years. Thus one of his most loved and enduring series of paintings, those depicting the rugged bush land of the Shoalhaven River at Bundanon in New South Wales occurred relatively late in his career. The influence and effect that this wild bush sanctuary south of Sydney had on his art cannot be overestimated.
Fishing at Dusk on the Shoalhaven was painted in the early 1980s when he was readying himself to permanently leave the United Kingdom and settle at Bundanon, which he had purchased in 1980. Prior to acquiring Bundanon he had stayed there with his wife Yvonne off and on since 1971 when he was awarded a fellowship at the Australian National University in Canberra. It was during this time that he commenced the Shoalhaven series of works. He was so enchanted by the region that in about 1973 he purchased the adjoining property of Riversdale spending the next ten years between Suffolk and Shoalhaven, painting and exhibiting regularly in both London, Sydney and Melbourne.
Fishing at Dusk on the Shoalhaven captures one of Boyd's perennial images of the series - that of the solitary figure reflected in the ever-present river amid the grandeur of the towering landscape. In this particular work the toughness of the bush is softened by a burst of early wattle along the banks of the river and a flock of white cockatoos rise from the branches flying up towards the ridgeline. The work is impressionistic and painted with confident, loose brush stokes in a soft wintery palette of blue/grays, browns and rose hues. Peace and serenity is everywhere and the figure fishing in the small boat lends the work a sense of quiet solitude. After many years of tackling tough subjects such as in the Bride series, Nebuchadnezzar and the caged painter, Shoalhaven seemed to present a salve to Boyd's world weary eyes. He never tired of capturing the many nuances of this landscape at all different times of the day and evening. Fishing at Dusk on the Shoalhaven is one of great evocations of Boyd's enduring relationship, respect and fascination with a place so important to him that he eventually bequeathed it to the nation to be preserved forever.
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