Important Australian + International Fine Art
20 April 2011


(1867 - 1943)

oil on wood panel

31.0 x 23.5 cm

signed lower right: Arthur Streeton

$30,000 - 40,000
Sold for $31,200 (inc. BP) in Auction 19 - 20 April 2011, Melbourne

Leonard Joel, Melbourne,
7 November 1958, cat. 12
Gerald Griffin, Melbourne
Thence by descent
The Estate of Eileen Griffin, Melbourne

Catalogue text

In 1897, when Arthur Streeton made his first visit to England, he spent some time on the way sketching in Cairo and Naples. In Egypt he endeavoured 'to get some of the Cairo brightness in my work', a fine example of his achievement being Cairo Street 1897 in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.1 For the Italian atmosphere, he relied more on the familiar. Sorrento, Naples 1897, in the Howard Hinton Collection, New England Regional Art Museum, Armidale, has a strikingly Australian look, so much so that it is inscribed in Hinton's hand on a label on the verso as 'Balmoral Beach, Sydney 1897'. Both the Cairo street scene and the Naples view were painted in London after his arrival. Compared with that of England, the light of Cairo and Naples for Streeton would not have been too different from that of Australia as evidenced by the two paintings mentioned above. When looking at Hay Stooks, Sussex c.1898 we can apply in reverse what once used to be said about Australia's colonial artists - initially Streeton saw the English landscape 'through Australian eyes'. At first we paint what we know rather than what we see. Harvests were a familiar subject for Streeton, his first Australian exhibition success being the oil painting Australian December 1887 in the collection of the Newcastle Region Art Gallery - a harvest scene painted at Melbourne's Mentone. In September-October 1898, when Streeton visited West Sussex, he made a number of sketches of harvest scenes. These were later translated, among others, into our painting Hay Stooks, Sussex and Sussex Harvest in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. While Sussex Harvest, which was shown in the London Royal Academy of 1899, shows the early influence of English art on Streeton's development, (especially John Constable), the related painting Hayfield, Kent, (Sotheby's 2006) provides the stylistic link between the two. Though the broad horizon, pearl-like cluster of clouds, and stooks of hay recall his earlier painting Australian December 1887, the atmosphere is gentler while retaining quite a high key more akin to Australia. Of much the same size as our painting, it appears also to date from 1898, possibly originally titled 'Wheatfield'. Some years later Streeton was to write to Tom Roberts about these first English landscapes, '...the first and only chance I've had at landscape was Sussex after my arrival; all too new and fresh...'.2 Together, these three paintings provide a fascinating glimpse into Streeton's initial responses to the English landscape, showing the gradual stylistic changes in his art in response to the different English climate and the allied beneficial influences of her artists.

1. Streeton, A., Bulletin, 21 October 1899, quoted in Galbally, A., Arthur Streeton, Lansdowne Press, Melbourne, 1979, p. 39
2. Streeton, 17 August 1902, in Croll, R. H., , Tom Roberts: Father of Australian Landscape Painting Robertson and Mullens, Sydney 1935, p. 201, quoted in Galbally, ibid, p. 50