Date of Birth
08 Apr 1867
Date of Death
01 Sep 1943
Place Of Birth
Duneed/Victoria/Australia
Place Of Death
Olinda/Victoria/Australia
Biographical Display
Sir Arthur Ernest Streeton was an Australian artist and a member of the famous Heidelberg School of Australian artists, best known for his rural landscapes.

b Mount Duneed, Victoria, 8 April 1867; d Olinda, 2 Sept 1943).

Streeton was born in Mount Duneed, southwest of Geelong, and his family moved to Richmond in 1874. He commenced study at the National Gallery Schools in 1882. Streeton was influenced by French Impressionism and the works of Turner. During this time be began his association with fellow artists Frederick McCubbin and Tom Roberts — a group that would become the Heidelberg School — and began plein air painting of rural scenes around Melbourne including at Box Hill and Heidelberg. In 1885 Streeton presented his first exhibition at the Victorian Academy of Art. He found employment as an apprentice lithographer.

In 1888 Streeton moved to the Eaglemont estate near Heidelberg which he shared with Roberts, Charles Conder and Walter Withers. He remained at Eaglemont until 1890 during which time he produced many of his most famous landscapes. One of the best, Golden Summer, Eaglemont shows clearly the differences in the light outdoors between sunshine and shade, with the focus of the picture being the glorious yellow-gold colour of the sunlit field. The figure of the man with some sheep seems subservient to the colour of the fields, compared to the paintings of Conder where the figure was more important. This painting was purchased by the National Gallery of Australia for $3.5 million. In the early 1890s Streeton made a number of trips to Sydney and painted in the Blue Mountains and along the Hawkesbury River.


Golden Summer, Eaglemont by Arthur Streeton (1889) bought by the National Gallery of Australia for $3.5 millionIn his beautiful painting of the Yarra River valley, Still glides the stream and shall forever glide (1890), Streeton shows a winding river in the middle of the picture and a landscape of bright yellowish colour, very typically Australian. The painting was the first of his landscapes which was bought by a large art gallery, with the Art Gallery of New South Wales purchasing it in the same year that it was painted.

In 1897 Streeton sailed for London. He held an exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1900 and became a member of the Chelsea Arts Club in 1903. While Streeton had developed a considerable reputation in Australia, he failed to achieve the same success in England. His trips to London were financed by the sales of his paintings at home in Australia. His time in England reinforced a a strong sense of patriotism towards the British Empire and, like many, anticipated the coming war with Germany with some enthusiasm.

Streeton returned to Australia in 1906 and completed some paintings at Mount Macedon in February 1907 before returning to London in October. Streeton painted in Venice in September 1908 and the resulting works were exhibited in Australia in July 1909 as "Arthur Streeton's Venice".

Streeton returned to Australia in April 1914 to conduct exhibitions in Sydney and Melbourne. He returned to England in early 1915 and, along with other members of the Chelsea Arts Club, including Tom Roberts, he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps (British Army) at the age of 48. He worked at the 3rd London General Hospital in Wandsworth and reached the rank of corporal. Streeton was deeply affected by the sights he encountered in the hospital and was discharged in February 1917 as medically unfit.

Having recovered, Streeton was made an Australian Official War Artist with the Australian Imperial Force, holding the rank of lieutenant, and he travelled to France on 14 May 1918 and was attached to the 2nd Division. As a war artist, Streeton continued to deal in landscapes and his works have been criticised for failing to concentrate on the fighting soldiers. Unlike the more famous wartime works depicting the definitive moments of battle, such as George Lambert's Anzac, the landing 1915, Streeton produced "military still life", capturing the everyday moments of the war. Streeton observed that:

True pictures of battlefields are very quiet looking things. There's nothing much to be seen, everybody and thing is hidden and camouflaged.
His most famous war painting, Amiens, the key of the west, a landscape of the Amiens countryside with dirty plumes of battlefield smoke staining the horizon, remains a powerful image of war. A similar scene is depicted in Streeton's The Somme valley near Corbie with a peaceful rural setting in the foreground and the smoke of an artillery bombardment in the distance.

Streeton returned to Australia in December 1919 and resumed painting in the Grampians and Dandenong Ranges. Streeton built a house on five acres (20,000 m²) at Olinda in the Dandenongs where he continued to paint. He was an art critic for The Argus from 1929 to 1935 and in 1937 was knighted for services to the arts. Streeton died in September 1943.

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