Balmain & Leichhardt

Born Mt Duneed, Victoria, Australia 1867, died Olinda, Victoria 1943

Arthur Streeton was a founding figure of the Australian impressionist style of painting that developed during the 1880s and 1890s in Melbourne. A student of the National Gallery School, Melbourne (1882–88), Streeton, like Tom Roberts and Louis Buvelot, took pleasure in the particularity of the Australian landscape. He achieved popularity within Australia with his style of short, square brushwork and picturesque atmospheric landscape effects.

Streeton served as an official war artist during World War I. On returning, his paintings responded to the sentiments of the 1920s and 1930s. They incorporated notions of stability, national identity and the idea of Australia as a sanctuary, far from the horrors of war.

Balmain & Leichhardt (1921) was painted from Ball’s Point, Sydney, looking out to the south-western suburbs.

In 1890 the Art Gallery of New South Wales purchased Streeton’s work on the recommendation of Julian Ashton. Streeton was awarded the Wynne Prize for landscape in 1928 and was knighted in 1937. Streeton’s work was included in Golden Summers: Heidelberg and beyond, National Gallery of Victoria and touring (1985–86), The Great Australian Art Exhibition 1788–1988, Art Gallery of South Australia and touring all state galleries (1988–89), and The Face of Australia (1988), and Federation: Australian art and society 1901–2001, National Gallery of Australia and touring (2001–02). The National Gallery of Victoria held a major retrospective, Arthur Streeton, 1867–1943 (1995) and touring (1995–96). He is represented in all state and national art collections.