Story By Terri Cowley

Frederick McCubbin’s paintings – particularly those from the end of his career – have deeply influenced the way Australians see and appreciate the unique landscape that surrounds us.
McCubbin was 52 years old and already one of Australia’s most successful artists when he made his first and only trip overseas in 1907. He went to Europe on a tour that allowed him to take in many of the late works of Impressionism. It was a journey that would forever change the way he painted. Up to that point he had created sentimental narrative works and tonal landscapes in grey light – illustrated by his iconic The Pioneer (pictured above) – but he put that behind him and for the remaining decade of his life painted impressionist landscapes of light and colour, largely applied with a palette knife.
“These we maintain, are consistently his finest works,” National Gallery of Australia director Ron Radford writes in his introduction to a book that accompanies an exhibition of McCubbin’s late work, Last Impressions 1907–17. It is showing at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra until November 1.
With the support of major sponsor R.M.Williams, the exhibition will then travel to the Art Gallery of Western Australia in Perth, showing from December 12 until March 28, 2010, and then to Bendigo Art Gallery from April 24 through to July 25, 2010.

This story excerpt is from Issue #67

Outback Magazine: Oct/Nov 2009