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  • Sir Arthur Streeton
    Apr 8, 1867 - Sep 1, 1943
  • Hobart 1938 - Arthur Streeton was one of the foremost Australian Impressionist painters, and his paintings continue to count among the most iconic images of Australian art. He joined the Medical corps during WWI and was appointed as an official war artist. Streeton finally return home in 1920, where he remained for the rest of his life. He was acknowledged as Australia’s greatest landscape painter.
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Hobart 1938
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  • Hobart 1938

  • Sir Arthur Streeton
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  • 1938
    Oil on canvas
    102 x 152 cm
    Private collection, Melbourne.

    The oil painting Hobart (1st impression) resulted from a trip Arthur Streeton made to the southern capital in 1938 on a commission from the Tasmanian Tourist Bureau. A number of Tasmanian subjects resulted from the visit including three versions, or 'impressions' as Streeton called them, of Hobart. Another painting, titled Hobart, measured some 100 by 150 centimeters, and is believed to be one of the largest Australian works he ever painted. It was recently seen in Arthur Streeton and the Australian Coast, presented by the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery over the summer of 2004-5. An informative note in the catalogue to that exhibition informed that Streeton, accompanied by the then leading watercolourist Harold Herbert, had flown to Hobart, it being 'the first time in his life Streeton travelled in an aeroplane...'.1 The experience led him to include one such craft in the upper part of the painting.

    The second and third impressions Streeton painted of Hobart were smaller than our painting and are probably identified with a recent work on the market titled Hobart from the Slopes of Mount Wellington. All were included in Streeton's exhibition at the Melbourne Athenaeum Gallery in August 1938, together with another Tasmanian view, Bridge in New Norfolk. In both the large Hobart and Hobart (1st impression) Streeton chose a view that had been popular with artists for over a century. Taken from Kangaroo Point across the Derwent, the scene was recorded by John Glover probably as early as 1833, by Henry Gritten in 1858, and again by Eugène von Guérard and later W. C. Piguenit. In each, Mount Wellington acts as a massive and sublime backdrop to the city nestling at its foot, the blue scenic waters separating the city and its port from the vantage point. Streeton's two panoramas of Hobart continue that tradition of the grand Australian image found in many of his best paintings - Golden Summer (1889, National Gallery of Australia), The purple noon's transparent might (1896, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne), Australia Felix (1907, Art Gallery of South Australia), Land of the Golden Fleece 1926 (private collection), and countless glories of Sydney Harbour painted from 1890 to 1926.

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Other paintings by Sir Arthur Streeton:

Troops Bathing, Glisy
Troops Bathing, Glisy
Coogee 2
Coogee 2
At Elizabeth Bay
At Elizabeth Bay
Minarets, Cairo
Minarets, Cairo
Sir Arthur StreetonArthur Streeton was one of Australia's best known landscape painters and member of the "Heidelberg school". Born at Mt Duneed, Victoria, in 1867, he studied at the National Gallery School from 1884 to 1887. He was apprenticed as a lithographer with Troedel and Cooper, Melbourne, until 1888 when he left to take up painting full-time.

During the 1880s Streeton was one of a group of young Australian artists who took up the French tradition of painting outdoors. He produced direct works that were believed to capture the distinctive qualities of the Australian sunlight. Later paintings created images of Australia that were widely regarded as embodying the essence of national character.

Anxious for success overseas, Streeton left Australia for Europe in 1897. When the First World War broke out he was living in London. Since he was too old for military service he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and worked as an orderly at the 3rd London General Hospital, Wandsworth, alongside other Australian artists, including Tom Roberts, A. Henry Fullwood and George Coates.

After his discharge as medically unfit, Streeton lobbied for the establishment of an Australian war art scheme. He was offered a commission by the Canadian government but declined, preferring to work for Australia. He was appointed an official war artist in May 1918, sent to France and attached to the 2nd Division AIF.

Streeton worked mostly around the Somme battlefields until mid-August 1918, when he returned to London. His drawings, watercolours and paintings show the AIF headquarters at St Gratien, Glisy and Heilly, the dressing stations at Villers-Bretonneaux, landscape studies and scenes of wrecked machinery. In October and November Streeton returned to France, again with the 2nd Division. This time his works concentrated on the destruction around Peronne.

Back in London, Streeton completed his contract as an official war artist with The Somme valley near Corbie, a large landscape showing the opening stages of the second battle of the Somme. With a peaceful rural landscape dominating the foreground and an artillery barrage set in the far distance, the painting embodies Streeton's observation, (in a letter to Sir Baldwin Spencer) that

"True pictures of Battlefields are very quiet looking things. There's nothing much to be seen - everybody & thing is hidden & camouflaged - it is only in the Illustrated papers one gets a real idea of Battle as it occurs in the mind of the man whose never been there".

Streeton returned to Australia in 1920, a famous and popular artist. He was knighted for his services to art in 1937 and died at Olinda, Victoria, in 1943.