Important Australian + International Fine Art
31 August 2011


(1867 - 1943)

oil on wood panel

13.5 x 66.5 cm

signed and dated lower left: Arthur Streeton 96

$250,000 - 350,000
Sold for $336,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 21 - 31 August 2011, Melbourne

Christie, Manson and Woods (Australia), The Age Gallery, Melbourne, 14–15 March 1972, lot 44
Private collection, Sydney
Deutscher Fine Art, Melbourne
Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane
Private collection, Brisbane

Catalogue text

Arthur Streeton's interest in Sydney Harbour was passionate and lifelong. He painted its sunlit coves, sandy beaches, and broad sparkling waters with a vitality and spontaneous engagement that can be readily felt. It is this youthful passion of early Sydney Harbour paintings that makes them so special, as seen in Panoramic View of Sydney Harbour, Across Cremorne 1896. Streeton's enthrallment with hedonistic Sydney and its magnificent harbour began in 1890 on his first visit, resulting in such sparkling works as 'Sunlight Sweet', Coogee, formerly in the Foster's collection, and From McMahon's Point - Fare One Penny in the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. For Streeton, Tom Roberts, and other artists from the south, Sydney and its brilliant sunlight, compared with the grey seasons of Melbourne, seemed like continual summer. When Streeton held his 1896 exhibition back in Melbourne, he called it 'Sydney Sunshine', opening to enthusiastic reviews.

Cremorne, with its headland stretching into the deep blue waters of the harbour, had a particular appeal to Streeton. It was also a convenient painting spot, located on Mosman headland not far from the Curlew Camp at Little Sirius Cove where he and Tom Roberts spent some time. During the first half of the 1890s, Streeton painted a number of views of Cremorne from this same elevated spot. They are so similar that they could be called a series. In the best Impressionist tradition, he captured Cremorne at different times of the day and in the different seasons. Two such paintings, related to the work on offer, are Midwinter Morning, Sydney Harbour 1893, in a private collection, and Rain Over Sydney Harbour 1893, in the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.1 Panoramic View of Sydney Harbour, Across Cremorne 1896 is an almost identical view, painted on that long, narrow panel so suited to the broad expanse of the harbour. The same of format, though not of size, these three paintings share the elevated view of the Cremorne headland and its magnificent harbour setting. Even the motif of the sailing ship to the far left in our painting is close to that in Rain Over Sydney Harbour. The differences are, of course the seasons, our painting suggesting that Streeton was interested in painting a sunny version - he was in Sydney in the summer of 1896 - of the winter scenes of two years before. Enlivened by the constant movement on the harbour, of the ferries, yachts, sailing ships, and liners, this scene of natural grandeur is filled with the sunny atmosphere of summer. Although not quite the same, his Cremorne paintings, nevertheless, call to mind the great series of Rouen Cathedral, haystacks, and poplars painted by Claude Monet in different times of the day. Streeton painted other splendid Cremorne works during the nineties such as Cremorne c1894, in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia, and Cremorne Pastoral 1895, which the Trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales purchased from the Society of Artists Exhibition in September 1895.

1. See Mary Eagle, The Oil Paintings of Arthur Streeton in the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 1994, p. 79