Arthur Boyd (1920-1999) Rockface, River and Small Waterfall, 1976

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Lot 31
Arthur Boyd
(1920-1999)
Rockface, River and Small Waterfall, 1976

Sold for AU$ 51,660 (US$ 36,072) inc. premium

Important Australian Art

17 Nov 2021, 18:00 EST

Sydney

Arthur Boyd (1920-1999)
Rockface, River and Small Waterfall, 1976
signed lower right: 'Arthur Boyd'
oil on copper
31.0 x 24.0cm (12 3/16 x 9 7/16in).

Footnotes

  • PROVENANCE
    Mrs Yvonne Boyd, Nowra
    Thence by descent
    Private collection, United Kingdom

    EXHIBITED
    Arthur Boyd: Shoalhaven River - Small Landscapes, Australian Galleries, Melbourne, 29 June - 13 July 1976, cat. 12, as Rockface and Small Waterfall
    Arthur Boyd, Rudy Komon Art Gallery, Sydney, June 1978, cat. 58, as Waterfall Rock and River, NFS
    Arthur Boyd, Australian Galleries, Melbourne, 6 - 18 August 1979, cat. 26, as Rocks, trees, small waterfall, Shoalhaven River
    Arthur Boyd, Lister Gallery, Perth, 5 - 18 June 1979, cat. 16 as Rocks, trees Shoalhaven River
    Arthur Boyd Retrospective, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 15 December 1993 - 6 March 1994; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 20 March - 23 May 1994; Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart, 9 June - 21 August 1994; Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, 22 September - 20 November 1994, cat. 121

    LITERATURE
    Sandra McGrath, The Artist and the River: Arthur Boyd and the Shoalhaven, Bay Books, Sydney, 1982, p. 116 (illus.), 117
    Ursula Hoff, The Art of Arthur Boyd, Andre Deutsch, London, 1986, pp. 72, 77, pl. 146 (illus.)
    Barry Pearce, Arthur Boyd: Retrospective, Beagle Press, Sydney, for the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1993, p. 136-137 (illus.)
    Janet McKenzie, Arthur Boyd, Art & Life, Thames & Hudson, United Kingdom, 2000, p. 173 (illus.)


    'I painted this between Bundanon and Riversdale after heavy rain when you get little rivulets which disappear later. The copper painting has intensely detailed areas where I am treating the landscape as if am only three feet away. At the same time I'm putting in the whole scene - you could make a hundred painting out of this'1 - Arthur Boyd


    Having spent over a decade in the green landscapes of England, Arthur Boyd returned to Australia in 1971 to take up the position of Creative Arts Fellow at the Australia National University, Canberra. Towards the end of the year, Arthur and his wife, Yvonne, were invited by art dealer Frank McDonald to visit his property on the Shoalhaven River, Bundanon, on the south coast near Nowra. The invitation would be a catalyst, re-connecting Boyd to the Australian landscape and profoundly influencing his practice for the remainder of his life.

    Boyd recalled his first visit to the Shoalhaven area in an interview with Janet McKenzie, 'We drove down from Canberra. It was an endless drive off the main road and we at last arrived very late. We stayed and it was absolutely searing hot. I went painting down by the river and it was so hot the paint ran into the sand. The first work was a very rudimentary sketch which is now at the National Gallery. After we had been there I thought the place was absolutely marvellous. When we were leaving I asked Frank McDonald if he ever came across another part of the river, or in the area, anything like Bundanon, would he let us know'2. After returning to England in 1972, Arthur received word that the neighbouring property, Riversdale, adjacent to the Shoalhaven River was up for sale. Having been so enchanted by this region the Boyd's swiftly acquired the property sight unseen. The river and its local surroundings providing a rich backdrop to many of his later masterpieces.

    'When it came to choosing the medium of copper for painting, Arthur was consciously setting himself a difficult task. While the 'big picture' allowed him to 'let off steam... hoping it would work', copper demanded that he deliberately 'set about to make it work'. It was a time-consuming occupation, detailed and precise. To facilitate the close work Arthur bought an enormous magnifying glass, new spectacles, and used an armrest while painting. it was if he was choosing to rein himself in, to balance the scales between the wild expressionist paintings and works which would demand patience and formal technique..

    Just one copper painting, measuring under 12 inches (30cm) by 9 inches (22.5cm), took him over a week to complete. Later he would call these magnificent works 'little colour notes... finely detailed'. Like a classical pianist turning to jazz, he would use these copper paintings as reference for the 'broader.. much more immediate.. larger works. The copper paintings were a medium and technique in which he could capture another aspect of the landscape.'3

    Alex Clark

    1. Sandra McGrath, The Artist and the River: Arthur Boyd and the Shoalhaven, Bay Books, Sydney, 1982, p. 116 (illus.), 117
    2. the artist in conversation with Janet McKenzie, July 1993
    3. Darleen Bungey, Arthur Boyd: A Life, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2008, pp. 497-498
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