Arthur Streeton / Australia 1867–1943 / The road up the hill c.1889 / Oil on cardboard / 22.8 x 13.2cm / Purchased 1956 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art

Arthur Streeton
The road up the hill c.1889

Not Currently on Display

This ‘impression’ on a nine-by-five-inch wooden panel was probably shown in the Melbourne ‘9 by 5 Impression Exhibition’ of 1889, the first major exhibition of impressionist paintings in Australia.

The works exhibited featured familiar domestic landscapes, offering glimpses of urban life, and drew on nationalistic sentiment for an Australian ‘school’ of painting. The exhibition catalogue proclaims that ‘… in these works, it has been the object of the artists to render faithfully, and thus obtain first records of effects widely differing, and often of very fleeting character’.

The road up the hill c.1889 relates to a passage from Thomas Hardy’s Far from the madding crowd, which Streeton was reading at the time.

Arthur Streeton was born in 1867 near Geelong, Victoria. His family moved to Melbourne, and from 1882 to 1888 Streeton attended evening classes at the National Gallery of Victoria School of Design, where he participated in plein-air painting excursions to Heidelberg.

Streeton joined artists’ camps at Box Hill and Eaglemont in the late 1880s, together with Tom Roberts, Frederick McCubbin and Charles Conder. In about 1897, he sailed for Europe, spending time in Cairo and Italy before settling in London in 1899.

Streeton took pride in the grandeur of Australian nature, but his English experience led to an unimaginative style, quite different from his early Australian landscapes which are full of vitality, colour and light. In the 1920s, he returned to Melbourne where he lived until his death in 1943.

Discussion Questions

1. Define the word ‘impression’ and discuss how this word relates to the landscape Streeton has painted.

2. What is your first impression of this painting? Does it change after you look more closely at the landscape and the people in it?

Classroom Activities

Think of a place or event that is special to you. Share that memory with others by creating an artwork that provides viewers with a glimpse of that special place or event, using similar techniques that Streeton used to create The road up the hill. Use crayons, pastels, pencils or paints. Display your artwork with the those from the rest of the class and share your impressions.