Important Australian + International Fine Art
27 August 2008

Arthur Streeton

(1867 - 1943)

oil on canvas

61.0 x 75.0 cm

signed lower right: A STREETON

$120,000 - 160,000
Sold for $150,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 5 - 27 August 2008, Melbourne

Leonard Joel, Melbourne, 1963
Armour family, Melbourne
Sotheby's, Sydney, 4 December 1994, lot 144
Private collection, Sydney


Probably Victorian Artists' Society, June 1914, cat. 79

Catalogue text

When Arthur Streeton exhibited a selection of his paintings of Venice at the Alpine Club, London in 1909, the art critic for the Observer praised the way in which - 'Mr Streeton has caught the opalescence and glitter of the Venetian canals and marble palaces in moments of bright sunshine as few artists have done before him. What is more the Australian painter has not confined himself to a mere architectural record, but makes us feel that Venice has retained in our days a certain something of the spirit which in the eighteenth century made it the pleasure ground of Europe.'1 His enthusiasm was generated by such paintings as Venice, Bride of the Sea, Piazza San Marco, Sunset over San Giorgio, and The Palace of the Doges. These major works were critically acclaimed and readily appreciated by leading private collectors. The regard in which they were and are held is shown by their former collectors, and the collections in which they are found today - Sir Baldwin Spencer, Howard Hinton; Dr. D.R. Sheumack; and Sir Edward Hayward and family of Adelaide's Carrick Hill; to the National Gallery of Victoria; National Gallery of Australia; Art Gallery of New South Wales; and the University of Melbourne. Streeton's dramatic use of light to capture Venice in all its shimmering, magical beauty place these paintings among his best.

Their success is the serendipitous result of several coincidences. Streeton and his wife spent their honeymoon in Venice in the spring of 1908, returning in the following autumn to complete more paintings for his proposed exhibition of the following year. To be in love in the most fairytale city in the world in spring, and then to return in the months of poetic autumn were inspirational for Streeton, and these light-filled paintings of tremulous beauty were the happy outcome. The grandeur of Venetian architecture adds to its magic of the impossible, of a city built on water, and San Giorgio Maggiore is one of its ecclesiastical splendours. Built in the late sixteenth century, its appearance across the lagoon has all the theatricality of a superb stage set. It is one of Andrea Palladio's masterpieces, combining a Classical Palladian style of temple-fronted church with a tall and elegant campanile. From Turner to Monet and beyond, San Giorgio Maggiore has attracted artists, and Streeton, one of Australia's most famous, was another to be captivated by its beauty.

1. Observer, London, 4 April 1909, quoted in Galbally, A., Arthur Streeton, Lansdowne Press, Melbourne, 1979, p. 71