On display from Saturday 7 November, the Art Gallery of New South Wales presents Streeton – a landmark exhibition of Australia’s iconic impressionist, Arthur Streeton, whose brilliant evocations of light, land and sea captured the spirit and optimism of our country.
Featuring more than 150 paintings, drawings and watercolours from 42 public and private collections, some not exhibited publicly for more than 100 years, Streeton is an in-depth survey of the artist’s unique contribution to Australian art from the 1880s to the 1940s.
Art Gallery of NSW director Dr Michael Brand said the expansive exhibition is the most significant retrospective of Streeton’s work ever held. “Arthur Streeton is undeniably our greatest impressionist landscape painter, and one who worked from a decidedly international perspective,” he said.
“This exhibition reveals the seminal role he played in defining a unique vision of Australia, while exploring the evolution of his art over six decades. Streeton’s poetic and technically brilliant impressionist paintings were made during vivid periods of joy and periods of duress: from abundance and economic boom to drought, bushfire and war. These timeless works have enduring relevance as we navigate the extraordinary events of our own time,” said Dr Brand.
Two years in preparation, Streeton brings together sun-drenched impressionist landscapes from the 1880s, joyful depictions of Sydney Harbour in the 1890s, pastoral paintings from the 1920s and 30s, and a selection of artworks from the artist’s international career painting in Egypt, England, Italy and WWI France.
The first Streeton exhibition in quarter of a century and the most comprehensive since his 1931 lifetime retrospective at the Art Gallery of NSW, Streeton presents works from museums and galleries around Australia alongside paintings from the Gallery’s extensive collection and rarely seen works from private collections, including Settler’s camp (1888), The blue Pacific (1890), The centre of the Empire (1902), the recently rediscovered The Grand Canal (1908), and Land of the Golden Fleece (1926).
Exhibition curator and Art Gallery of NSW head curator of Australian art Wayne Tunnicliffe said Streeton is a revealing study of the artist’s life and art. “Arthur Streeton was a sensitive and deeply romantic bohemian who eventually became one of the most commercially successful and popular artists of his generation,” he said.
“Along with artist friends and peers, including Tom Roberts and Charles Conder, Streeton developed an Australian version of impressionism, the new art movement embraced by more radical artists around the world in the 1880s.”
“This exhibition presents his famous plein-air oil paintings of the 1880 and 90s, alongside a selection of lesser known works painted in England and Europe which show how Streeton continually adapted his style to the genius loci of the land and cities he depicted. This was even more evident in Australia in the 1920s when he painted his great pastoral works, including Land of the Golden Fleece (1926), as well as images of modern Sydney and intimate domestic scenes of his homes and gardens.”
“Most remarkable for his time, Streeton became a passionate environmentalist who published extensively from the late 1920s on conservation and urban planning issues and exhibited thought-provoking works depicting damage to the natural world. A century later, his predictions of environmental destruction at the hands of humans are as relevant now as when they were painted,” said Tunnicliffe.
A richly illustrated book, Streeton, has been published by the Art Gallery of NSW and Thames & Hudson Australia in conjunction with the exhibition and includes new writing by Wayne Tunnicliffe and specialist writers including Roger Benjamin, Tim Bonyhady, Jane Clark, Allison Goudie, Anne Gray, Emma Kindred, Andrew Yip, and Gallery staff Paula Dredge, Hannah Hutchison, Simon Ives, Denise Mimmocchi and Nick Yelverton.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery Road, The Domain (Sydney)
Exhibition: 7 November 2020 – 14 February 2021
Entry fees apply
For more information, visit: www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au for details.
Image: Arthur Streeton, Land of the Golden Fleece, 1926 (detail). Private collection, Sydney
Note: The Gallery will continue to be guided by the NSW Government’s health guidelines and updates will be provided on the website.