(Old Garden Fence, South Yarra)

Frederick McCubbin

MCCUBBIN old garden fence
(Old Garden Fence, South Yarra) by Frederick McCubbin


Frederick McCubbin
(Old Garden Fence, South Yarra)
oil on canvas on composition board
49.5 x 59.5 cm

signed lower right: F. McCubbin

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John A Hogan, Melbourne 1957
Mrs F. W. (Elsie) Dennett
by descent to Mrs Suzanne Cecil (née Dennett)
The Estate of Suzanne Cecil, Mossgreen, Melbourne, 15 May 2016, lot 4, as Landscape, South Yarra
corporate collection

Further Information

Old, broken wooden fences are a familiar motif in Frederick McCubbin’s art.  A Winter Evening 1897, purchased by the National Gallery of Victoria in 1900, is an early example, of a quiet, fenced corner of McCubbin’s semi-rural property at Brighton.  When the McCubbin family moved to ‘Carlsberg’, South Yarra in 1907, fences frequented many a landscape, usually with an added motif – of busy chooks in Winter Sunlight 1908, (Art Gallery of South Australia) and the larger version, Autumn Morning, South Yarra 1916 (National Gallery of Victoria).  Along with fences, McCubbin often reworked other motifs, as in the man with the wheelbarrow seen in The Gardener c.1910 (Art Gallery of New South Wales) and The Pioneer 1914 (The Melbourne Club).  And in Old Garden 1910 (Art Gallery of Western Australia) and Winter’s Morning 1914 (National Gallery of Victoria), the McCubbin children in front of paling fences provide colourful foreground features.

The Artist’s Garden, once in the Bleasel collection, is similar in size and subject to (Old Garden Fence, South Yarra) c.1916.¹  Both are set in the sprawling grounds of ‘Carlsberg’, extending to the Yarra River below.  Trees, fence line, view through to the urban development beyond, and a brilliance of technique are strikingly similar.  In our painting the closeness of the scene draws the viewer into the masterly display of paint.  All is enveloped in an atmosphere that is nigh palpable in its celebration of the intimate beauty of nature.  In this and many other late works, McCubbin achieves a wonderful serenity through the felicitous harmony of ideas and technique.  It recalls what J. M. W. Turner, who McCubbin much admired, achieved in his late works.  In McCubbin, the transcendental blends with the ineffable in a painting of museum quality that may grace the best of private collections.

David Thomas, 2016

¹. The Artist’s Garden, The Bleasel Collection of Australian Painting, Christie’s, Melbourne, 22 March 2005, lot 17