Sunday, August 14, 2011

Artist Analysis: Frederick McCubbin

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Artist Analysis: Frederick McCubbin

“Discuss the importance of McCubbin’s work to the tradition of landscape painting in Australia”

As a renowned, Australian-born landscape artist, Frederick McCubbin’s work is of great importance to the tradition of landscape painting in Australia as he draws his ideas from the hard working Australians from which our culture has derived. Seen as a painter of heroic figure compositions set in nationalist landscapes, McCubbin studied at the Artisans School of Design under Louis Buvelot during the late 1860s. Influenced by other prominent artists to the likes of Jean François Millet and Jules Bastien-Lepage, McCubbin followed many of there ideas and styles by using the realistic approach of ‘Truth to nature’ which enabled McCubbin to paint the world as he sees it and how it really is.

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The Australian landscape is made up of beautiful colour and texture, which has been endlessly depicted by other artists such as Eugene Von Guerard. As a European Artist, Von Guerard finds beauty in such things as our traditional foliage, fauna and the mountain ranges, where as Frederick McCubbin, being of Australian decent sees beauty and appeal in portraying the life and hard work of people that live and work the land. McCubbin paints with a nature as he sees it rather than with the academic ideal. He paints a documentary of life on the land and about national pride as apposed to painting a ‘pretty picture’ that will look good with the decor. Using renaissance techniques, McCubbin painted rural workers, Aussie pioneering spirit, settler’s and historical events which help shape our knowledge of Australian hardship on the land in the 1880’s. His aim being to tell the Australian story of settlement. Fred McCubbin’s methods of painting was by painting plein-air out in the landscape surroundings, and then back at his studio would place figures in the painting after he had painted the landscape. An example of when McCubbin would have done so, is in his painting ‘Down on his luck’.

Along with the help of other artists such as Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton, McCubbin collaborated to introduce new techniques of painting, by mixing compositions and stature and figure drawing along with impressionist’s techniques of broad brushwork and atmospheric effects of the Australian light. Frederick McCubbin often used the romantic approach to his use of colours, which were often quite juxtaposed. Thus, meaning that when up close, these colours were side by side and were not mixed, but from afar, the colours would blend, and form an object The colours would be softened down to create a poetic and nostalgic flow to the scenery. Once relocated to Mount Macedon, McCubbin began to experiment in illustrating light and its effects on colour in the nature. This allowed McCubbin to portray the landscapes at different times of day in different weather conditions, giving a true indication of how the landscapes can offer more than just pretty daytime paintings.

Frederick McCubbin’s painting’s are of great importance to the tradition of landscape painting in Australia. Through his use of varied styles, theme’s and techniques, he has managed to depict the ‘truth’ and reality of the hardship of a new country whilst still managing to highlight the beauty of Australia’s most prized and outstanding landscapes.


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