Menzies Art Brands

ARTHUR STREETON, Hill and Cloud, Wandiligong 1928


Wandiligong, located in the north-east of Victoria, is a small township that was established in the 1850s during the time of the gold rush. The name Wandiligong is an aboriginal name meaning ‘place of the echidnas’. The town was built on the Morses Creek and during the height of the prospecting era Wandiligong had a population of more than two thousand with forty shops and twelve hotels. The population of the small community began to decrease with the end of reef mining in the area around 1880, and further again with dredging ending in the 1920s. The population of Wandiligong was thought to be around two hundred and fifty at the end of the 1920s when Arthur Streeton spent time sketching and painting the landscape of the area.

Arthur Streeton is undoubtedly one of Australia’s most important landscape painters and a founding member of the ‘Heidelberg School’ group of painters. The ‘Heidelberg School’ was formed in 1889 by Arthur Streeton, Charles Condor and Tom Roberts, the three would paint the landscape together at Eaglemont, near Heidelberg outside Melbourne. Although occasionally joined by other artists, it was these three that formed the nucleus. The artists lived a simple but happy life, hosting picnics and parties, sharing ideas about technique and planning exhibitions. It was this era that Mary Eagle describes as ‘the most evocative period in the history of Australian art.’1

This creative phase was to have an enormous impact on Streeton’s career. He was influenced greatly by his fellow artist, Tom Roberts, who advised the young painter to ‘look into the deep, quiet face of nature’ to develop a modern aesthetic which captured the expression and feeling of their environment rather than imitate the past masters. Streeton however, was anxious to learn and develop his art so departed for Europe in 1897 where he studied the styles and subjects of painters such as Constable and Turner. These conflicting influences did become evident in Streeton’s later works and also in the critical response to
his work. 

Streeton won the Wynne Prize for landscape painting in 1928, the same year Hill and Cloud, Wandiligong was painted. This painting depicts the sunny, charming Victorian landscape in Streeton’s signature blue and gold palette. Considered brushstrokes create a dappled light which falls upon the pastoral scene, light which Streeton became so well known for depicting in his landscapes. His later works were widely regarded as embodying the essence of national character and the artist became something of a national treasure. Most critics responded positively to the optimism in Streeton’s romantic vision of the Australian landscape. The artist went on to write his own art critiques for the Argus and other local publications, as well as commentating on the environment and public affairs. He was knighted in 1937, and retired to Olinda with his wife, Nora. The artist spent the last years of his life devoted to his garden on the property, Streeton passed away at Olinda in September 1943.


Eagle, M.,The Oil Paintings of Arthur Streeton in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 1994, p.29

Caroline Jones MA (Art Admin.)

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