15 January 2009

Australia's Own School of Landscape Painting II

To show you how quickly the Heidelberg style became accepted as the definitive version of Australian cultural nationalism, I refer you to Geoff Pound's:
THE OFFICIAL F W BOREHAM BLOG SITE: Boreham on Frederick McCubbin’s Painting, ‘The Pioneer’

Quoting F W Boreham, ‘The Pioneer’, Mountains in the Mist of 1914, he wrote "Every Australian has reverently raised his hat at some time or other to Mr McCubbin's great picture The Pioneer 1904. It holds a place of honour in the Melb-ourne Art Gallery, and copies of it have found their way into every home in the Commonwealth". Note the date - 1914.
McCubbin, The Pioneer, 1904

"The first of the set represents the pioneer on pilgrimage. There stands the wagon! The horses are turned out to forage for food among the scrub. The man himself is making a fire under a giant blue-gum. And, in the very foreground, sits the sad young wife, her chin resting heavily upon her hand and her elbow supported by her knee. Her dark eyes are eloquent with unspeak -able wistfulness, and her countenance is clouded with something very like regret. Her face is turned from her husband lest he should read the secret of her sorrow, and see that her heart is breaking. She is overwhelmed by the vastness and loneliness of these great Australian solitudes; and her soul, like a homing bird, has flown back to those sweet English fields and fond familiar faces that seem such an eternity away across the wilds and the waters. The pioneer's wife!

The centre picture—the largest of the trio—shows us the freshly built home in the depths of the bush. The little house can just be seen through a rift in the forest. In the foreground is the pioneer. He is clearing his selection, and rests for a moment on a tree that he has felled. His axe is beside him, and the chips are all about. Before him stands his wife, with a little child in her arms. The soft baby-arm lies caressingly about her shoulders.

In the third picture we can see, through the trees, a town in the distance. In the immediate foreground is the pioneer. He alone figures in all three pictures. He is kneeling this time beside a rude wooden cross. It marks the spot among the trees where he sadly laid her to rest."

Sacrifice, the importance of family, hard labour, the bush, distance from home (Britain), commitment to building a life in the new country (Australia)!


Hels said...

Many thanks for your comment re McCubbin referred to by F W Boreham.

Nice to have a squiz at your site and your thoughts.


Geoff Pound

face painting melbourne said...

I really enjoyed the beauty of your blog post...Its really nice and I love the way in which you have described everything..

Hels said...


this is a subject I come back to often in lectures and articles. Australian art was created before the Heidelberg School and definitely after, but the magic Heidelberg period is the one most beloved by the students.

Hels said...

face painting

welcome aboard. The Heidelberg School might have been a rather short period in the overall scheme of things in Melbourne's art world, but it was ours!!!!