Important Australian + International Fine Art
28 April 2010

Lloyd Rees

(1895 - 1988)

oil on canvas

92.0 x 106.5 cm

signed and dated lower right: L REES / 64

$220,000 - 320,000
Sold for $288,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 14 - 28 April 2010, Melbourne

Osborne Art Gallery, Adelaide
Richard C. Crebbin Collection, Sydney
Christie's, Melbourne, 26 November 1996, lot 14 (cover illus.)
Company collection, Melbourne


Osborne Art Gallery, Adelaide, 1966
Lloyd Rees Retrospective, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, and touring all state galleries and Newcastle City Art Gallery, 2 October 1969 – 31 August 1970, cat. 81 (label attached verso)


Free, R., Lloyd Rees Retrospective, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1969, cat. 81, p. 24 (illus.)
Free, R., Lloyd Rees, Lansdowne Press Pty Ltd, Melbourne, 1972, cat. 0236, p. 95, pl. 27 (illus.) Rees, L. with Free, R., An Artist Remembers, Craftsman House, Sydney, 1984, p. 84 (illus.)

Catalogue text

Summer in the Suburbs belongs to a group of special paintings of the mid-sixties in which Lloyd Rees celebrates the grandeur of the Australian landscape. The Surge of the Sea, 1964, brings out the magnificence of the coastline through the elemental harmony of rocks and water. The Timeless Land, 1965, and Australian facade, 1965, orchestrate the sublime in a primeval landscape of ageless cliffs and ancient gums; and The City, 1963, brings sea and land together on a shoreline where the man made is in concord with the dramatic beauty of one of the world's greatest harbours. The fall of light in each plays a central role, as does the emphasis on the picture plane. Richly tactile surfaces, almost flat, the mural-like quality in each counter balanced by a powerful sense of weight expressed through the three-dimensional presence of rock and building. Each is a masterwork in its own right. Together they are like hymns of praise to the great South Land, harbingers of Rees' 1969 series of paintings, Song to Creation.

Rees' high regard for Summer in the Suburbs is recalled in conversation with his biographer Renee Free when he commentated enthusiastically on its subject and the technique employed. 'This picture was of importance to me because it is an even-keyed, rather than a high-keyed picture.'1 Referring to the 'joyous experience' of its 'scumbled on' colour, he added 'I really did try to keep that picture almost on the picture plane, without much concession to perspective at all.' The painting, Rees tells us, was loosely based on drawings made from the house of his neighbour and artist-friend, George Lawrence, at Northwood on Sydney's north shore - the verandah of which 'looked down on a mass of walls and roofs, and rather excluded the sky.' Paying 'a lot of attention to surface textures', he recalled his use of various suitable mediums, concluding, 'And that's how that picture happened, but more than that I remember the pleasure of painting it.' This can be felt in the finished work through the dextrous handling of paint, and the way the composition ascends giving it a particular nobility heightened by the pervading stillness and light. This, and the absence of any particular or defining style of architecture, gives Summer in the Suburbs that same timelessness seen in the other works. Although the small figures are almost indiscernible in the immediate foreground, the entire painting evokes a special harmony between man and nature, in a mood of joyous praise, a characteristic of the best in Rees' art.

1. Rees, L., and Free, R., op. cit., p.85