Frederick MCCUBBIN | Princes Bridge

Frederick MCCUBBIN
Australia 1855 – 1917

Princes Bridge 1910
oil on canvas-textured board
signed and dated 'F McCubbin 1910?' lower right
25.0 (h) x 35.0 (w) cm
Private collection


In this sketch McCubbin was primarily interested in capturing the effects of light and colour on a late afternoon in the city. While the subject is clearly recognisable, it was of secondary concern to him. He blended his colours and applied them quickly with a palette knife to create this impressionistic effect.

Princes Bridge is one of the central bridges in Melbourne and links Swanston Street north of the Yarra River to St Kilda Road, running south. It carries road, tram and pedestrian traffic. Here, the viewpoint is the far end of Princes Bridge looking towards Swanston Street. On the left is the newly completed (1910) Flinders Street station, crowned with its distinctive dome. St Pauls Cathedral and Melbourne Town Hall can be seen on the right. The tram in the middle distance enlivens the image and suggests a bustling, early twentieth-century metropolis.

McCubbin’s daughter, Kathleen, recalled travelling with her father on the city’s trams:

he used to travel to and from the Gallery by cable-tram … [which] brought him into constant contact with the ‘trammies’ as we used to call them. And they all knew him and greeted him by name … I accompanied father on many tram rides. Just for the fun of it, we would occasionally take a trip into the city and back on the same tram. ‘For a breath of fresh air’, father used to say. On a warm, sunny afternoon this was an enjoyable experience … (Mangan 1984, p 12).

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