Important Australian + International Fine Art
24 April 2013


(1864 - 1939)

oil on wood panel

26.5 x 34.0 cm

handwritten letter from the artist attached verso: Templestowe / Oct 26th 1895 / Dear Mr Bidley, / I beg / I should be glad if / you would drop me a / line as soon as you have / decided on the sketch. / Yours sincerely / David Davies

$120,000 - 160,000

Bidley Collection
A.S. McMichael, Melbourne
J. Manton, Queensland
Sotheby's, Melbourne, 23 August 1993, lot 53
Private collection, Melbourne


Australian Paintings from Private Collections, Loan Exhibition, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, July 1925, cat. 123 (lent by A.S. McMichael, label attached verso)
David Davies 1864–1939, Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, Victoria, 11 September – 11 November 1984; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 4 December 1984 – 6 January 1985; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney,1 February – 10 March 1985, cat. 21(label attached verso from Art Gallery of New South Wales)
Heidelberg to Heide: Creating an Australian Landscape 1850–1950, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Victoria, 2 June – 12 August 2001


Heidelberg to Heide: Creating an Australian Landscape 1850–1950, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Victoria, 2001, pp. 45, 62 (illus.)

Catalogue text

David Davies's Landscape, c1895 is a masterly work from a leading figure of the Australian school of Impressionism, formerly known as the 'Heidelberg School'. Its distinguished provenance included A.S. McMichael and Jack Manton, who had one of the finest private collections of paintings by Tom Roberts, Frederick McCubbin, Arthur Streeton, Charles Conder and others. Most are now in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.1 Manton's collection also featured a number of oil paintings by Davies including Warm Evening, Templestowe on the theme of moonrise for which he became so popular. The importance of Landscape, c1895 has also been acknowledged by its inclusion in the 1984-85 retrospective touring exhibition organized by the Art Gallery of Ballarat, and the 2001 exhibition Heidelberg to Heide: Creating an Australian Landscape 1850-1950, presented by the Heide Museum of Modern Art.

The Ballarat born Davies studied under McCubbin and G.F. Folings by at the National Gallery Schools, and under Jean-Paul Laurens in Paris. By 1892 he was painting en plein air at the St Ives artists' colony in Cornwall before returning to Australia the year following. It was between 1893 to 1897 that he painted his nocturnes, for which he is best known, chief examples being in the collections of the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, and the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. The appeal of these moonrise subjects and our painting lies very much in their seeming simplicity of subject and composition.

Engaging as this may be, the viewer is quickly captivated by the directness of presentation, breadth of execution subtlely handled, and delicacy of values, all owing much to the French influences on his painting. In Landscape, c1895 Davies puts nocturnes aside for the moment for the sparkle of sunlight. Its enveloping atmosphere gives the painting a light, airy feeling. When fellow artist Clewin Harcourt wrote the following about Davies, it is so applicable that he almost could have been writing about this painting. Commenting on the 'Australian style' in Davies's paintings, Harcourt said, 'He saw beauty and character in the parched grass and shimmering heated air of midsummer and rendered it with truth and delicacy of tone.'2 I say almost, for there is a feeling of a slight coolness in the air, warmed by a gentler sunlight as Davies captures the transient effects of the moment, bringing out the poetic in nature. The fresh green of new grass contrasts with the yellow brown stalks of a summer past, providing that nostalgic touch that so fascinated Davies and his contemporaries, his feeling for paint evocatively blended with poetic imagery and atmosphere by working directly from nature.

1. McCaughey, P., Australian Painters of the Heidelberg School; The Jack Manton Collection, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1979
2. Letter 4 November 1955, State Library of Victoria, quoted in Clark, J., and Whitelaw, B., Golden Summers: Heidelberg and Beyond, International Cultural Corporation of Australia Limited, Sydney, 1985, p. 17