Important Australian + International Fine Art
31 August 2011


(1920 - 1999)

oil on canvas

101.0 x 76.0 cm

signed lower right: Arthur Boyd

$65,000 - 85,000
Sold for $96,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 21 - 31 August 2011, Melbourne

Private collection, Perth

Catalogue text

In 1973 Arthur Boyd and his wife Yvonne purchased Riversdale on the banks of the Shoalhaven River based on a photograph sent to him in England from his friend Frank McDonald. The artist commented that, 'the photograph he sent made it look so romantic and beautiful that we bought it sight unseen'.1 He set about to restore the abandoned Victorian timber cottage on the property into a single level version of the neighbouring property, Bundanon, which he would also eventually acquire and leave to the nation. So began a tumultuous and at times ambiguous relationship with a tough landscape and one that turned out to be quite at odds with the idyllic vision McDonald's photograph first engendered in the artist. His exploration of the Shoalhaven environment and his engagement with it became one of Boyd's most enduring subjects right up until his death in 1999. It was as though he was forever trying to solve the riddle of this at once abundant and also destructive land. When asked how he felt about the Shoalhaven landscape he commented, 'It's foreign... it is a fierce country, subject to violent changes such as floods and intense heat. The actual size of things about the country, the boulders, the actual timber, is just larger. It's very challenging'.2

The Shoalhaven palette is unmistakable in his work. Boyd effortlessly captured the Nowra sandstone of the escarpments with its unmistakable chalky gold and white, the green and blues of the eucalypts and the ever present azure water of the Shoalhaven itself. Shoalhaven, probably painted around 1990 is another example from this extensive series and shows the region's characteristic rock formations, which dramatically rise in steep vertical ridges and cliffs from the river bed. The artist, ever challenged by this landscape, delighted in his painting trips along the river, often setting up his easel at a favourite place and painting en plein air amid the sounds of the region's rich migratory birdlife. Shoalhaven c1990 certainly evokes this daily ritual of the artist and leaves us with a further variation, another fleeting impression of how Boyd saw his final home.

1. McGrath, Sandra, The Artist and the River, Bay Books, Sydney 1982, p. 22
2. ibid., p. 40