Australia 1855 – 1917
Macedon landscape (View of the bush, Mount Macedon)
oil on canvas board
25.0 (h) x 35.0 (w) cm
SR Stoneman Foundation, 'Duneira', Mount Macedon, Victoria
Macedon landscape (View of the bush, Mount Macedon) is one of a number of small spontaneous oil sketches McCubbin painted near his Mount Macedon home. This semi-abstract work shows the bushland transformed from a prosaic illustration of individual trees and undergrowth to a rich texture of paint. Light glows through the foliage, and on the trunks of the trees, with the slender gums forming a kind of screen.
The densely worked surface, the varied palette, and the animated palette knife strokes are characteristic of McCubbin’s approach during his closing years. The various textures of the paint enabled him to suggest the different layers of the bush and the richness of the undergrowth. He contrasted the vertical staccato rhythms of the white trunks with the smoother more sombre horizontal shadows, and used a patch of blue sky to provide a joyful counterpoint.
A similar group of trees can be found in Child in the bush (cat 59). The paintings are closely related in painterly approach, although Child in the bush is a larger and more ‘finished’ work. McCubbin is known to have based his larger works on pochades (small landscape studies) painted on the spot, and may well have used this sketch as a basis when painting Child in the bush.