Important Australian + International Fine Art
16 April 2008

Lloyd Rees

(1895 - 1988)

oil on canvas

86.5 x 108.0 cm

signed and dated lower right: L REES / 66

$200,000 - 300,000
Sold for $240,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 4 - 16 April 2008, Melbourne

Artarmon Galleries, Sydney
Acquired from the above c.1968-69
Private collection, Victoria


Possibly, Free, R., Lloyd Rees, Lansdowne Press, Sydney, 1972, cat. 0244, as 'Australian Façade'

Catalogue text

Lloyd Rees' South Coast Façades captures that grandeur of the Australian landscape which touches on the universal and the sublime. In celebrating the inspiring beauty and nobility of nature, his art does not overwhelm. Rather, it encourages the viewer to join with the artist in the enjoyment of the spectacle. In this and the related works, The Timeless Land and Australian Façade, he seeks the familiar in the infinite. All three paintings use effectively the motif of the cliff façade and its striking frontality. Generally known as the 'Australian Façade' series, they are among Rees' best works of the period, when he was in full command of his sensibilities, and had the technique at his disposal to realise them in glorious paint. Beginning in 1965 with The Timeless Land and Australian Façade, their inspiration came from Kangaroo Valley and the Blue Mountains. Rees commented: 'The faces of the Blue Mountain... come into Australian Façade - all the cliffs I ever looked at came in finally in the motif.'1 For our painting the source of inspiration is the south coast of New South Wales, one of Rees' most fertile painting grounds. Given such clear sources, it must be emphasised, however, that in these landscapes Rees makes no attempt at literal transcriptions of nature. For him painting is 'an entirely separate creation.'2

South Coast Façades is quintessentially Lloyd Rees, the projecting foreground rocks and low viewpoint adding to the majesty of the scene, of towering cliffs as ancient as time, and gums noble, tall and straight. It has a wonderful sense of atmosphere and feeling of light, which characterise his best paintings of the sixties. To this is added the richness of the paint, broadly and freely applied, in harmony with the grand manner of his presentation of heroic nature.3 Detailed in imagery and richly textured, the entire surface has been deftly worked with brushes and palette knife.

Renée Free, in her monograph on Rees, catalogued three paintings as 'Australian Façade'. The first is dated 1965 and was included in the Rees 1969 retrospective exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. It is featured as a colour plate in Free's monograph on the artist and once belonged to a private London collector. The two others are a little smaller in size, and date from 1966. The long ownership of South Coast Façades by another eminent Australian artist bears testimony to its aesthetic quality, as one of Rees' outstanding paintings in praise of the grandeur of nature.

1. Quoted in Free, op. cit, p. 82
2. Lloyd Rees, Lloyd, The Small Treasures of a Lifetime, Ure Smith Pty Ltd, Sydney, 1969, p. 151
3. Free, op. cit, p. 78