Frederick MCCUBBIN | Landscape, spring

Frederick MCCUBBIN
Australia 1855 – 1917

Landscape, spring [Landscape with trees] 1912
oil on canvas
40.0 (h) x 74.5 (w) cm
Wesley College, Melbourne donated by Mr and Mrs JT Tweddle, 1938


This view is from the bottom of McCubbin’s garden at 42 Kensington Road, South Yarra, which he depicted in other works such as Winter sunlight (cat 11), The old garden (cat 38) and Autumn morning, South Yarra (cat 72). In the distance, beyond the mass of trees with their branches reaching out, can be seen the Yarra River and the industrial suburb of Richmond. In this work McCubbin created a vivid surface pattern using quick expressive gestures. His palette is essentially a multiplicity of greens, enhanced with yellows, blues and purples. Through his feathery touch and high-keyed palette he captured not just the earth, trees and sky, but also a radiant light.

McCubbin’s daughter Kathleen wrote of the garden at South Yarra that it ‘had its rewards, especially in the springtime when the fruit-trees blossomed and the first jonquils and daffodils flowered in the long green grass down the hillside. What a joyous sight that was, and [a] reminder that warmer days were on their way’ (Mangan 1984, p 25).

This painting may well be the one titled ‘Landscape, Spring’, exhibited in 1917, and described in the Age as ‘a subtle rendering of the tender greens of a grass-grown orchard’ (13 September 1917, p 9). The composition is very similar to another work, Glimpse of the Yarra 1915, reproduced in MacDonald 1916. However, McCubbin painted this work from a slightly different position, with more of the Yarra visible.

The painting was donated to Wesley College, Melbourne in 1938 by the businessman and philanthropist Mr JT Tweddle and his wife, the artist Isabel Hunter Tweddle, who had been a student of McCubbin’s at the National Gallery art school, 1894–97. An enthusiastic collector, JT Tweddle became a trustee of the Public Library, Museums and National Gallery of Victoria in 1921. This was one of eight oil and watercolour paintings by Australian artists which the couple gave to Wesley College. They also owned, at one stage, McCubbin’s Collins Street (cat 68).

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