Important Australian + International Fine Art
29 August 2012


(1920 - 1999)

oil on canvas

44.5 x 109.0 cm

signed lower right: Arthur Boyd

$30,000 - 40,000

Lister Gallery, Perth
Wesfarmers Art Collection, Perth, acquired from the above in 1980 (label attached verso)


The Song of the Lamb: The Wesfarmers Collection of Australian Art, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, 19 August – 2 October 1989


Gooding, J., Topliss, H., Sharkey, C., and Horridge, N., The Song of the Lamb: The Wesfarmers Collection of Australian Art, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, 1989, p. 70 (illus.)

Catalogue text

When Arthur Boyd painted Suffolk Landscape, Ramsholt c1973, he chose a palette to bring out the fertility of the scene, creating a type of pastoral ideal. The green is so lush that it tantalises the eye, allowing the imagination to share its appeal with the sheep contently grazing. 'The flatness of the land', Boyd said of the English landscape, 'gives a marvellous light because there is no interruption. The shadows are not strong in England ... .'1 True to our painting, the shadow across the hillside is transient, the dampness of the atmosphere allied to a sky of rain-bearing clouds which have just given of their bounty to the land. The openness of the composition and ease of handling is suited to the breadth of the scene.It could not be more dramatically different from Boyd's parched Australian images of the1950s as in Irrigation Lake, Wimmera c1950 and The Waterhole with Birds, Near Alice Springs c1954, both paintings being in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. In contrast, the presence of water increases their stark look. Black crows like blots on the landscape, add the brutal touch of the scavenger, and native birds speak of surviving against all odds. At Ramsholt this battle with nature is cast off, expressed through the motif of the birds' integration with the scene, flying across fields which nurture and provide. Flight, of course, is a metaphor of freedom. These same identifications are found in related paintings as Suffolk Landscape with Running Dog 1973 and Suffolk Landscape: Ramsholt with Pheasant and Curlews 1973, in private collections.2 They, as most of these Suffolk paintings, are of the same size and format as our painting.

Boyd's connection with Ramsholt near Woodbridge in Suffolk, began in 1969 when he rented a cottage there for weekends and holidays. Later, on return from Australia in 1972, he moved to this part of rural England, his studio looking out on to spruce, larch and other trees. In her excellent monograph on Boyd, Ursula Hoff reminds us that this is John Constable country. Referring to two splendid works in this series, Suffolk Landscape with Gate 1973 and Two Swans by a Pool, Suffolk 1973 (both private collections, England), Hoff wrote, 'The hedged fields, the tree-lined horizon, the framing spruce reveal the ordered, long-established nature of the district; the Deben river bank provides the natural habitat of the white swan.'3 As in his Australian landscapes of Berwick, Boyd delighted in the human presence or evidence in his paintings, of a man with his dog, fenced fields, houses on the hills nearby - civilised.

1. Hoff, U., The Art of Arthur Boyd, Andre Deutsch, London, 1986, p. 65
2. See McKenzie, J., Arthur Boyd: Art and Life, Thames and Hudson, London, 2000, p. 194 for illustrations
3. Hoff, op. cit., p. 65