Important Australian + International Fine Art
26 August 2009

Arthur Streeton

(1867 - 1943)

oil on canvas

61.5 x 50.5 cm

signed lower right: A STREETON

$40,000 - 60,000
Sold for $39,600 (inc. BP) in Auction 10 - 26 August 2009, Melbourne

Private collection, Melbourne

Catalogue text

Arthur Streeton in his older and masterly years frequently turned to painting flowers, selecting his subjects from his garden in Toorak, and later from the five acres he planted on his property 'Longacres' at Olinda in the Dandenong Ranges outside Melbourne. Roses were his favourites; so much so that in December 1932 he devoted an exhibition to them. Exhibition of Roses was held at the Fine Art Society's Gallery in exhibition Street, Melbourne, eight of the thirteen oil paintings being roses of such appealing titles as Roses, Silver and Silk, Roses - Deep Red and Green, and Roses - Pale Yellow. They moved the writer for The Bulletin to muse, 'Placed alongside these refined pictures, a bowl of real roses would seem faux pas.'1 Less jocular but very enthusiastic, fellow artist and watercolourist, Harold Herbert, opened his review for The Argus thus 'A lover of roses has painted them for us in all their glowing colour and garden freshness.'2 Acknowledging Streeton's record as 'a remarkably fine painter of flowers' Herbert stated that 'on this occasion he has excelled his previous efforts.' His observations could apply to this work as to other distinguished examples. He wrote, 'Some full-blown, have hearts vibrating with colour; others, with a litter of shed petals beneath them and drooping buds, cluster together in bowls of porcelain, silver, and crystal.' In Fullbloom Streeton uses the successful ploy of a plain, one colour background against which the full, colourful splendour of the roses can be shown at their best. In a bravura passage of painting Streeton captures the fall of light on the softest of petals and the precise cut-decoration of the crystal vase, giving the work its special appeal. To this he adds silky textures among the folds, inviting the viewer's participation in the enjoyment of their quintessential beauty.

According to the Bible, the beauty of flowers is unparalleled; even Solomon in all his glory could not exceed that of the lilies of the field. When artists pit themselves against such competition, the greatest skills and inventions are required to capture their aesthetic transience and give life beyond that briefly bestowed by nature. Streeton succeeded as few other Australian artists have.

1. Bulletin, Sydney, 28 December 1932, p. 33
2. Herbert, H., 'Mr. Streeton's Roses. A Delightful Exhibition', Argus, Melbourne, 1 December 1932, p. 9