Important Australian + International Fine Art
29 August 2012


(1920 - 1999)

oil on canvas on board

28.0 x 36.0 cm

signed lower left: Arthur M Boyd

$25,000 - 35,000
Sold for $28,800 (inc. BP) in Auction 26 - 29 August 2012, Melbourne

Leonard Joel, Melbourne, 23 March 1983, lot 775
Private collection, Melbourne

Catalogue text

During the three years that teenager Arthur Boyd lived with his grandfather, Arthur Merric Boyd senior, at Rosebud on the Mornington Peninsula, he painted a number of landscapes, beach scenes, and portraits that revealed a talent both precocious and individual. An easy naturalism combined with an expressionist verve of execution, his paintings were often carried out almost entirely with palette knife, resulting in layers of thick paint, richly tactile in their visual and emotional appeal. Boyd later said, 'I liked the idea of how the purity of the colours was retained and also how they had an energy. The paint didn't get muddy and was easier to handle. ... I liked the clarity and brightness.'1 In his landscapes, the chief interest was atmosphere, as in the two 1937 paintings Rosebud Landscape with Grazing Sheep, and the brooding Dark Landscape with Stormy Sky, both in the collection of the NationalGallery of Australia, Canberra. Figures on Foreshore at Low Tide c1938, which belongs to this select Rosebud group, is likewise an engaging essay in atmosphere, entirely different in mood. Moreover, our painting on offer and related works such as Jetty at Rosebud 1938 and Early Morning, Rosebud 1938 (both in private collections2) follow in the footsteps of the Australian Impressionist painters. Tom Roberts, Frederick McCubbin, Arthur Streeton, and especially Charles Conder all delighted in painting the bayside beaches of Melbourne from Brighton, Black Rock and Mentone to Beaumaris. While Boyd later was to pay homage to Conder in his painting Autumn Afternoon, Mentone 1956-57, his Rosebud paintings are entirely individual works, following in a tradition but personal in interpretation.

In Figures on Foreshore at Low Tide the mood is one 'of calm contentment and affection'.Evoking the atmosphere of a still summer's day, colours are high in key, images mirrored in the sea's reflections, skies clear and blue. The relaxed feeling of summer is so pervasive that even the waters seem reluctant to be disturbed, gentlest lapping on the shore. As a prelude to the coming heat of noon, the paint of the sky dances in preparation, the bright light, through the scumbling of whites and pale yellows, bleaching everything it touches. The feeling of lassitude is continued by the thick, painterly emphasis on horizontals, and the subtlest changes of painterly application. There is something even languid about the curve of the shoreline. While the pleasures of the beach have long been popular in Australian art, none has ever quite caught the seemingly never-ending pleasures of the holiday sun as has Arthur Boyd in this joyous painting.

1. Arthur Boyd interview with Janet McKenzie, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 1993, quoted in McKenzie, J., Arthur Boyd: Art and Life, Thames and Hudson, London, 2000, p. 29
2. See Pearce, B., Arthur Boyd retrospective, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1993, pp. 38-39 for images of these two paintings
3. Philipp, F., Arthur Boyd, Thames and Hudson, London, 1967, p. 26