Frederick MCCUBBIN | Ti-tree glade

Frederick MCCUBBIN
Australia 1855 – 1917

Ti-tree glade [Study, South Yarra] 1910
oil on wood panel
signed 'F McCubbin' lower right
25.4 (h) x 35.9 (w) cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne purchased 1960


This is possibly a scene close to Brighton, Melbourne, looking southward, since there appears to be a distant view of a coastal headland and water through the trees. The upper half of the painting is a dense web of foliage, while unusually it is in the lower half that glimpses of sky and water appear through the trunks of the trees. According to the National Gallery of Victoria’s painting conservator, Michael Varcoe-Cox, McCubbin has painted the blue sky and water first, then painted the trees on top. Painted outdoors, entirely wet-in-wet, there are grains of sand embedded in the paint, lending support to the argument that this work was painted at a coastal location.

McCubbin has used both palette knife and brush. The surface is highly textured and energised, with horizontal brushstrokes running across the composition and contrasting with the vertical strikes describing the tree trunks. This up-close view of the bush is reminiscent of McCubbin’s first Box Hill landscapes, such as Lost 1886 (NGV) and ‘At the falling of the year’ 1886 (NGA). While the scene is enclosed and somewhat claustrophobic, McCubbin offers the viewer a respite from the predominately green and brown foliage with a tiny flash of gold and white paint to which our eye is drawn.

McCubbin lived in Brighton from 1896 until 1900. Following his move from here to Mount Macedon and to South Yarra, he continued to make occasional painting trips to Melbourne’s bayside suburbs, depicting the distinctive coastal vegetation and topography of Port Phillip Bay.

Acquired by the National Gallery of Victoria in 1960 as ‘Study, South Yarra’, this work has recently been retitled as ‘Ti-tree glade’ because of the subject and because a work of this title was exhibited in 1910, the year that it was painted.

Elena Taylor

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