Frederick MCCUBBIN | Gum leaf (South Yarra landscape)

Frederick MCCUBBIN
Australia 1855 – 1917

Gum leaf (South Yarra landscape) 1915
oil on gum leaf
signed 'F McCubbin' lower centre
irregular 10.3 (h) x 21.5 (w) cm
Private collection


McCubbin’s daughter Kathleen commented on these works:

It’s amazing to think that a landscape can be painted on a gum leaf… But this one is I suppose one of the few that still exist of a great many gum leaves that were prepared … during the First World War and had a landscape painted on them—to be sold on ‘Our Boys Day’ in 1915—which was to raise money for the soldiers. I remember my mother organised big working bees at our home in South Yarra and these consisted mostly of women artists, because most of the male artists had gone and enlisted in the army. And all these people used to come to our home and they would paint … these gum leaves, and tie red, white and blue ribbons around them. The gum leaves were sold on the streets instead of the Anzac buttons.

The really beautiful work was done by the good artists, including my father, and he used many cardboard fans and gum leaves and painted full landscapes on them—you know, seascapes and bush scenes—wattle studies and the like … there were two sizes of gum leaf. The gum leaves that my father and other artists painted on … were much bigger than the ones that they just attached the ribbons to. The small gum leaves sold for about sixpence, I think, in those days, while the ones that my father painted sold for ten shillings … I remember that the children of the artists and other children helped sell the gum leaves outside the Stock Exchange Building and we dressed up in fancy dress to do this (Kathleen Mangan, quoted in Mackenzie 1990, p 202).

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