Important Australian + International Fine Art
28 August 2013


(1895 - 1988)

oil on canvas

122.0 x 182.0 cm

signed and dated lower right: L REES 78

$380,000 - 480,000
Sold for $408,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 30 - 28 August 2013, Sydney

Macquarie Galleries, Sydney
Private collection, Perth
Private collection, Sydney


Lloyd Rees, A Tribute To Sydney, Macquarie Galleries, Sydney, January 1979, cat. 9 (label attached verso)
Sydney: Metropolis Suburb Harbour, Museum of Sydney on the site of first Government House, Sydney, Curated by Peter Emmett; this was a three part exhibition: Metropolis(December 1999 – April 2000); Suburb(April – July 2000); Harbour(5 August – 3 December 2000) (illus. in exhibition catalogue, p. 130)
Lloyd Rees – looking for light, Holmes à Court Gallery, Perth, 21 June – 11 August 2002, curated by Belinda Carrigan (illus.)


Free R., and Rees, L., Lloyd Rees: A Tribute to Sydney, Macquarie Galleries, Sydney, 1979, pp. 50–53, 63 (illus.)
Insights, Historic Houses Trust newsletter, Sydney, Winter 2000, (illus. inside cover)

Catalogue text

For many years Lloyd Rees rightfully held the position of the grand old man of Australian art, his eminence still felt today in the treasures he bequeathed to all. Inspired throughout his life by the genius of J.M.W. Turner, in his later years he rose out of the solid form and superb draughtsmanship of his earlier years to create visionary paintings full of luminosity. Rees's Looking East - Mid Afternoon 1978 is an essay about light, ennobled by the vision that comes with age following a lifetime of achievement. 'If there is one thing I want now', he once said, 'is for my paintings to be light right through'. Referring to the Impressionists and the great fresco painters of Italy and 'the sense of the painting being on a light background', he added 'This is what I am trying to do here, to make the lightness of the canvas the dominating thing'.1 All his later paintings celebrate light in both technique and subject whether they be of sunlit Sydney or the twilight moments of Hobart. Water often plays a prominent part, graced by the white sails of yachts, as in Dusk on the Derwent, Tasmania, 1985 or The Waterfall, Tasmania, 1982, in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. The time of day likewise plays a significant role, not only in the changing appearances from dawn, through noon to dusk, but also metaphorically. Like the ages of man, the sun rising speaks of the beginning, noon the height, and the afternoon into twilight, of maturity into the tranquility and richer perceptions of the sage. Looking East - Mid Afternoon, 1978 was painted when Rees was in his eighty-third year. In its light drenched panorama of Sydney Harbour, complete with white sails and those looking on, it combines notions of youth, the new day and new life (the sun rises in the east), with the maturity of the day (afternoon) in a concept of Turneresque splendour, couched in that poeticism that distinguishes Rees's late work. Everything is enveloped in a golden haze of optimism. It resonates with yellow, the colour of the sun and life, and dissolves into the visionary with a touch of the heroic. Of the spiritual in the material, nobility of perception combines with the sensuous appeal of paint and lively strokes of the brush, as does form with light. The softness of definition, almost diaphanous, not only embraces the miracle of light and its beauty, but also evokes an atmosphere of embracing calm and enlightenment. It touches upon the transcendental, recalling the great masters, especially Claude Monet at Giverny, expressing the harmony of all things - perceptions of infinity through the everyday.

1. Lloyd Rees, Age, 1982, quoted in Pearce, B., Australian Art in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2000, p. 287