37. ARTHUR STREETON
Arthur Streeton began painting flowers while living in London, shortly after his marriage to Nora Clench in 1908. The artist and his wife settled into their new life and home, establishing a decorative English garden which would provide inspiration for his study of floral subjects. Streeton had always held an appreciation of nature, an interest developed while painting the vast, golden landscapes of Australia. In Europe, he was able to observe the distinct seasonal shifts that changed the colour and mood of the landscape so dramatically. Roses and auratum lilies grown in the artist’s own garden became two of Streeton’s favourite species and would feature in his best still-life paintings.
Streeton continued to paint in the still-life genre throughout his career; the careful study of domestic objects and flowers kept his artistic awareness of colour and composition sharpened. Following his return to Australia in the 1920s, Streeton painted more than 150 flower paintings demonstrating both the artist’s fondness of, and collectors’ appetite for, the genre. As Paula Dredge and Simon Ives observe, ‘In the wake of the First World War, their introspective and contemplative study of life and death gave them great appeal.’1
The current work, Full Bloom, painted during the interwar years, demonstrates Streeton’s mastery of the still-life genre. Here, his appreciation of the subject is evident – the vibrant, velvety rose petals almost tangible in their delicate rendering. In 1934, Streeton was living between his homes in Olinda and Toorak, cultivating impressive gardens at both properties. The roses featured in the present work would likely have been grown and carefully tended to by the artist himself.
Testament to the significance of Streeton’s still-life paintings, many examples have been collected by public institutions across Australia including the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney and National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
1. Dredge, P., & Ives, S., ‘Still-Life and the Life Beneath’, Streeton, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2020, p.302
Caroline Jones MArtAdmin