Important Australian + International Fine Art
29 August 2007


(1867 - 1943)

oil on panel

16.8 x 40.0 cm

signed and dated lower left: ArThur STrEETon 92
original Thallon frame

$180,000 - 240,000
Sold for $372,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 2 - 29 August 2007, Melbourne

Fine Art Society, Melbourne (label attached verso)
Purchased from the above by Mr George Russell
Thence by descent, private collection, New South Wales
Deutscher~Menzies, Melbourne, 2 September 2003, lot 32
Private collection, Melbourne

Catalogue text

McMahon's Point, Sydney Harbour, was a favoured painting spot of Arthur Streeton's during the early 1890s. It inspired not only this painting but a number of other memorable images such as the companion paintings, From McMahon's Point - Fare One Penny, 1890, in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, and McMahon's Point Ferry, 1890, in the Hinton Collection, New England Regional Museum, Armidale. The focus of Streeton's attention in these two works of 1890 is the foreground, with Milson's Point providing an appealing backdrop. In North Shore, Sydney, 1892, and a smaller, related panel of about the same time, Milson's Point from McMahon's Point, Streeton changed his focus to the distant shoreline.1 The interest in both paintings is now Milson's Point, populated with the new buildings of the North Shore Ferry Company.

A number of significant changes took place during the few years separating these paintings. The cliff face of Milson's Point was cut away, as part of the 1891- 93 excavations, to connect the railway line with the ferry terminus, the rise above dominated by the wool store of the Pastoral Finance Association, built in 18912 - all recorded in Streeton's North Shore, Sydney, 1892. While these four views from McMahon's Point share the motif of a smoking ferry, the row of terrace houses along Alfred Street, and calm, blue waters, our painting provided Streeton with an added opportunity for a touch of his characteristic bravura in the rapidly executed reflection in the Harbour of the escarpment and buildings of the Point. Ever the master of sparkling sunlight, Streeton's paintings of Sydney Harbour, its numerous bays and inlets are so captivating in their imagery and seductive in their painterly handling that, even today, our image of the Harbour is influenced by these paintings. They seem as fresh now as when he painted them more than a century ago.

Streeton belonged to a golden age of Australian art. Many of his paintings have become part of our cultural identity, still sparkling with their original light and colour. North Shore, Sydney 1892 is a brilliantly high-keyed example, painted when Streeton was at the height of youthful exuberance and exercising a masterly technique. The broad and lively brushstrokes express the immediacy with which he captured the atmosphere and realised the scene so vividly, painted in the open air directly from the motif.

1. Milson's Point from McMahon's Point, oil on panel, 11.5 x 22.5 cm in Australian Paintings; Colonial/Impressionist/Early Modern, Deutscher Fine Art, Melbourne, 30 October-16 November 1984, cat. 41 (illus.)
2. The Pastoral Finance Association's wool store was burnt down in 1921