Australia 1855 – 1917
Child in the bush
[(Girl in forest, Mount Macedon) (Landscape with child) (Mount Macedon landscape with girl)]
oil on canvas
signed and dated l.r., oil "F. McCubbin/ 1913"
50.8 (h) x 76.2 (w) cm
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
In Child in the bush McCubbin revisited a central theme in his work: the activities of children in the Australian bush—including his early narratives of innocent and vulnerable children stranded in the bush. He also painted images of the magical worlds invented by children through storytelling and imagination.
Here a young girl freely wanders though the bush carrying a basket, possibly collecting wildflowers or berries. Although small beside the large trees and thick growth, she is at ease with her environment. Her white dress sets her apart from her surrounds. But more significant than the girl is the surrounding bracken, bark and gums, and the dappled light glancing through it and upon it. As with Macedon landscape (cat 58) and other works of this time, some areas of the canvas are almost abstract layers of expressive paint. He used a palette knife to apply flecks of colour—greens, blues and tans, pinks and violets.
Child in the bush, painted in the summer of 1913, depicts the wooded landscape close to McCubbin’s residence at Mount Macedon. Again the model for the child in the image was the artist’s youngest daughter, Kathleen.