Frederick MCCUBBIN | The Yarra

Frederick MCCUBBIN
Australia 1855 – 1917

The Yarra [View over the Yarra, near the artist's home] 1907
oil on canvas
signed 'F McCubbin' and dated '1907' lower right
40.0 (h) x 60.0 (w) cm
Private collection


This is another of McCubbin’s images of the life of the city of Melbourne, showing it to be a vital and progressive place. Here he presented a view from the north (Burnley side) of the Yarra River, looking towards South Yarra. By including men and horses at work in the foreground, McCubbin created a down-to-earth image of workers, emphasising the value of honest labour. He added to the significance of the subject by contrasting this scene of work with a motif from the more modern industrial world, depicted in the steam train puffing across the railway bridge over the Yarra, from Burnley to Toorak.

McCubbin added drama to the scene through the large sky, which takes up half the painting. It is organised into parallel bands, showing darkened clouds above, with rain falling from them, with lighter clouds below, through which the sun is valiantly attempting to shine. This large sky then acts upon the landscape below through the reflections in the water.

McCubbin created a sense of beauty in this painting through his use of blues, purples, pinks and greens, flicked onto the canvas with brush and palette knife. It is possible that he painted this work just before he left Australia in early 1907 (and exhibited it in McCubbin 1907, as ‘The Yarra’), or else soon after his return from England late in 1907.

Tickets available online now | open 14 August – 1 November 2009