Important Australian + International Fine Art
27 August 2008

Arthur Boyd

(1920 - 1999)

oil on canvas

153.0 x 123.0 cm

signed lower right: Arthur Boyd

$120,000 - 150,000

Australian Galleries, Melbourne (inscribed verso: AG15)
Corporate collection, Melbourne Sotheby's, Melbourne, 28 August 2006, lot 6
Private company collection, Melbourne


Arthur Boyd Recent Paintings, Australian Galleries, Melbourne, 15 – 30 July 1985, cat. 15

Catalogue text

Arthur Boyd's Shoalhaven paintings are numbered among those charismatic images of the Australian landscape which include such works as Arthur Streeton's paintings of the Hawkesbury and Fred Williams' Lysterfield Hillside series. One recalls the sun-drenched vastness of Streeton's 'The purple noon's transparent might', 1896, and its 'haze-enveloped hills', or The River, 1896, 'a grey, cool scene, painted with the softest effect, and rendered charming by the mirrorlike surface of the stream.'1 Then there are the mighty Williams' Lysterfield Hillside II, 1972, and Lysterfield II, 1972. Immediately identifiable through the striking individuality of their styles, local of scene, yet national in imagery, colour and atmosphere, they rank among the great achievements in Australian art. Significantly, the three artists worked in series and included foregrounds of rivers, riverbanks and towering trees. Streeton adopted the aerial through the high viewpoint of his compositions. Boyd's and Williams' are more terrestrial, emphasising the flatness of the pictorial plane as the eye ascends the surfaces of water, land, and sky.

A further similarity is their painterliness. A selected detail from a Boyd or a Williams work has all the presence of an expressionist abstract painting, arabesques and swirls of paint poised between the illusion of trees and rocks and the formal qualities of shape, colour and texture. The Boyd-Williams association continues in other compositional similarities, particularly the three strata of river, bank and sky. In 1974 Boyd purchased 'Riversdale' next to the Shoalhaven River, followed a few years later by 'Bundanon'. Living within this landscape paradise with its changing seasons provided a new inspiration, its natural wonders passionately observed at different times of day and year. The predominant note in Shoalhaven River Bank is peace. The warm and cool colours of the land are reflected in the placid waters, while the sky remains intensely blue. It has, as Boyd described the scene, 'a knife-edge clarity' that compliments its haven-like tranquillity.'2 Into this, Boyd introduced a sense of grandeur through the feeling of ascension, expressed in the harmonious beauty of the vertical landforms and trees. We are grateful to the Australian Galleries Archive for assistance in cataloguing this painting.

1. Sydney Morning Herald, 5 September 1896, p. 7. The purple noon's transparent might was first exhibited under the title 'Hawkesbury Landscape'. Both paintings are in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria.
2. Quoted in McGrath, S., The Artist and the River: Arthur Boyd and the Shoalhaven, Bay Books, Sydney, 1982, p. 62