In 1934 Elioth Gruner made one of several visits to the Canberra region where he painted Murrumbidgee Ranges, Canberra. In 1928 Gruner had purchased a car, which gave him the means to travel throughout the countryside on painting trips. He first visited Yass and Canberra in 1929 and was impressed by the crisp, clear light of the area. Over the next ten years he returned several times and completed some of his major late works in the district.
Murrumbidgee Ranges, Canberra is an arrangement of several views looking south-west from Canberra towards the Tidbinbilla and Brindabella ranges. While there are no Murrumbidgee Ranges as such, the Murrumbidgee River runs between Canberra and the Tidbinbilla Range. Gruner would have painted this work outdoors, and possibly in one sitting. Through his use of colour he has captured the sharp light of the Canberra region and the cool velvety softness of the surrounding mountains. He has also depicted signs of settlement, including sheep grazing quietly near the ‘bush capital’, distant trails of smoke and a car heading west towards the Murrumbidgee River.
Murrumbidgee Ranges, Canberra was awarded the 1934 Wynne Prize for landscape painting at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. Indeed, Gruner won the prize seven times between 1916 and 1937. In 1937 Murrumbidgee Ranges, Canberra was exhibited in London in the Artists of the British Empire overseas exhibition at the Royal British Colonial Society of Artists.