ROSES, LA FRANCE, c.1933

IMPORTANT AUSTRALIAN + INTERNATIONAL FINE ART
Sydney
20 September 2017
5

ARTHUR STREETON

(1867 – 1943)
ROSES, LA FRANCE, c.1933

oil on canvas

58.5 x 48.5 cm

signed lower right: A STREETON

Estimate: 
$35,000 – 45,000
Provenance

Inherited by the artist's niece
Sotheby's, Melbourne, 4 May 2004, lot 75
Private collection, Melbourne
Deutscher and Hackett, Melbourne, 29 August 2012, lot 44
Private collection, Tasmania

Catalogue text

Flowers are among the most beautiful creations of nature as we are often reminded by poets and the gifts of lovers. The Bible tells us that 'even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed' like the lilies of the field; and Shakespeare's Juliet said '... that which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet'. They were Arthur Streeton's favourite, both as gardener and artist, especially when he was living in Melbourne's South Yarra and then at Olinda in the Dandenong Ranges. As his love of roses grew, they appeared more frequently in his exhibitions, reaching a climax in his 1932 show at the Fine Art Society's Gallery, Melbourne. Titled Exhibition of Roses, it included eight paintings of various varieties – Roses, Silver and Silk; Roses, Deep Red and Green; and Roses Pale in Silver Bowl being among them. The poetically inclined titles reflect the artist's lyrical approach, so redolent of Roses, La France, c.1933. The painterly subtleties of the setting compliment the seductive pinks and textured petals of the flowers, formed and highlighted by the masterly play of light and shade. The bravura technique gives added immediacy, increasing the affinity between artist and viewer as they identify in sharing the moment of exquisite beauty transcending the transience of nature.

When reviewing Streeton's solo Melbourne exhibition of 1931, which included Roses – Pink among five paintings of roses, fellow artist Harold Herbert remarked, 'The bowl itself is an object lesson in still-life painting, but the flowers have a quality which almost enables them to be smelt and touched.'1 His words apply equally to our painting on offer. Herbert continued, 'His love of flowers inveigles him into a manner with paint which makes them fragile, beautiful things.' It is as if by magic that Streeton conjured up through oil paint the very freshness of the flowers themselves.

1. Herbert, H., 'Art of Arthur Streeton: Sunlit Landscapes. Beautiful Flower Pieces', The Argus, Melbourne, 17 March 1931, p. 8

DAVID THOMAS