Menzies Art Brands



With its soft, earthy palette, Autumn Mist, Parramatta bears the influence of the artists visits to Cornwall and Italy as part of an extended sojourn in Europe from 1923-4.  Art historian Renee Free writes that Reess Cornish landscapes demonstrate his developing interest in light on stone wall, architecture weathered by nature, and buildings revealing the way people live; all of which may be observed in the present work.2  Reess emphasis upon architectural form and the atmospheric qualities of light and shadow in Autumn Mist, Parramatta is also resonant of Italy, where Rees spent six weeks in early 1924.  Having been captivated by the aged splendour of Rome and Tuscany, the artist remembered his time in Italy as a great discovery [] one of the experiences of a lifetime.3  Describing an overnight train journey between Paris and Rome, Rees wrote:

it was the most magical days travel I ever knew.  After lunch, as we were speeding along, I became aware of the plains of Italy with their ochre-coloured cubistic buildings.  We went right through Turin and on to Milan.  We travelled by night down to Rome and our excitement was mounting when in the morning light, we saw fantastic towns built on hilltops - sometimes even mountain tops.  I felt a great welling up within me - the awakening of the architectural sense which Rome gives you.4  

Autumn Mist, Parramatta further suggests the influence of French nineteenth-century painter Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796-1875), whose work Rees had long admired.  The mellow hues, delicate, feathery foliage and layered, frontal composition of the present work are strongly reminiscent of Corots landscapes of northern France from the early 1870s.  Upon being exhibited at Sydneys  Macquarie Galleries in 1938, Autumn Mist, Parramatta was celebrated for its romantic, Corot-like grace [] Simple details are transformed by light into something alluring and glamorous. Unlike those of his Sydney counterparts, Reess landscapes of this period suggest little interest in conventional plein-air Impressionism, which employed a heightened palette and broken brushwork to capture fleeting natural effects.  The landscapes of Lloyd Rees are altogether more ruminant and deliberate.  Rather than seeking to preserve a moment in time, Reess landscapes are the products of continual observation and extensive reworking, such that they emphasise the typical over the particular.

As suggested by its inclusion in two major retrospective exhibitions of the artist, Autumn Mist, Parramatta is an important example of Lloyd Reess early practice, exuding a certain timelessness consistent with his delicately considered approach to landscape.    



1. Rees, L., Peaks and Valleys: An Autobiography, William Collins, Sydney, 1985, p.150

2. Free, R., Lloyd Rees, Lansdowne Press, Melbourne, 1979, p.29

3. Biographical Notes, in Lloyd Rees: Painting with Pencil 1930-36, Richard Nagy in association with Sydney Living Museums, Sydney, 2016, p.176

4. Rees, L., Peaks and Valleys: An Autobiography, p.138

5. 'Art Exhibitions: Lloyd Rees's Work,' Sydney Morning Herald, 26 October 1938, p.8  

6. Free, R., Lloyd Rees Retrospective, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1969, p.5


Catherine Baxendale, B. Phil (Hons), MA (Art Curatorship)



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