Arthur Streeton (1867-1943) Melba's Country, 1936

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Lot 9
Arthur Streeton
(1867-1943)
Melba's Country, 1936

Sold for AU$ 183,000 (US$ 128,733) inc. premium
Arthur Streeton (1867-1943)
Melba's Country, 1936
signed and dated lower left: 'A STREETON /36'; inscribed verso with title and date on stretcher bar; housed in the original John Thallon frame
oil on canvas
62.0 x 75.0cm (24 7/16 x 29 1/2in).

Footnotes

  • PROVENANCE
    David Jones' Art Gallery, Sydney
    R. Cobden, Sydney
    Grosvenor Galleries, Sydney
    Dr and Mrs D. R. Sheumack, Sydney, acquired from the above in 1956
    thence by descent
    Sotheby's, Important Australian Art, Melbourne, 23 November 2009, lot 14
    The Estate of John Fairlie Cuningham, Sydney

    EXHIBITED
    Exhibition of paintings by Sir Arthur Streeton: "Landscape with variations", David Jones' Art Gallery, Sydney, April 1937, cat. 5
    North Shore Festival of Arts Historic Exhibition of Colonial & Sirius Cove Painters, Artlovers' Gallery, Sydney, 1963, cat. 27
    The D. R. Sheumack Collection of Australian Paintings, S. H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney, 17 May - 12 June 1983, cat. 102

    LITERATURE
    Anne Galbally, Arthur Streeton, Lansdowne Press, Melbourne, 1969, p. 85, cat. 213
    Robyn Christie and Justin Miller, The D. R. Sheumack Collection, Eighty Years of Australian Paintings, Sotheby's, Sydney, 1988, pl. 22 (illus.)


    Arthur Streeton's great panoramic Australian landscapes spanned five decades from 1889 to the late 1930s and throughout were marked by the same energy and passion for their subject. The influence of the Romantic poets, Wordsworth, Keats and Shelley resonated through these works and provided titles for several of the best known. Streeton's own sublime views of the interior highlighted the transience of human settlement in the vastness of the continent's interior where nature clearly predominated. The visualisation of Australia as the Lucky Country was born directly from works such as Australia Felix, 1907 (Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide). After the First World War Streeton's sweeping landscapes, for the most part, retained this early optimism, and, as in the present work, nature ruled preeminent. But by the 1920s this certainty was wavering and in the last twenty years of his life several works depicted manmade ecological destruction and signalled his fear that nature could be overwhelmed.

    Panoramic paintings provided the turning point in Streeton's artistic career: the purchase of Still Glides the Stream, and Shall Forever Glide by the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1890 and The Purple Noon's Transparent Might by the National Gallery of Victoria in 1896 were the first works acquired by major galleries. When he returned to Australia in 1920, after service as a war artist on the Western Front, it was to paint the landscape with renewed determination. The fruitless destruction and waste of the European war reinforced notions of Australia as a land of promise and pride. Some of Streeton's finest panoramas followed and were majestic tributes to this notion: Land of the Golden Fleece, 1926 (National Gallery of Australia, Canberra), The Barron Gorge and Sugar Plains, 1924 (Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth); and The Valley from Olinda Top 'Let the Rose glow intense and warm the air' – Keats, 1925 (National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne).

    Streeton and Dame Nellie Melba, the most famous diva of the age, had been friends since before the war and in 1914 he painted the landscape around her country house at Coldstream in the Yarra Valley north-east of Melbourne (Melba's Farm, 1913, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery). On his return to Australia it was Melba who came to meet his ship and she who encouraged Streeton to settle in nearby Olinda. The present work, a beautiful example of the grand landscape, may depict a view north from the Dandenong ranges towards Coldstream and the land that had been owned by his distinguished friend and patron.
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