Hamilton, Victoria, Australia 1918 – Perth, Australia 2001
Rainbow and supernumerary
Northcliffe, Western Australia, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, oil on composition board
Howard Taylor was an incessant observer of nature, concerned with recording perceived phenomena in nature. In 1976, largely influenced by his admiration of Constable, Taylor painted a group of paintings in a small format in which he focused on clouds and the skies. One of these is Rainbow and supernumerary 1976. He based the works on drawings in his sketchbook, where he made day–to-day observations, including details of weather, sunlight and shadow. Rainbows were a particular source of fascination. In Rainbow and supernumerary Taylor demonstrated his commitment to looking, his fascination with the natural world and his sensitivity to recording the transient effects of light.
Taylor was born in Hamilton, Victoria, on 29 August 1918 and moved to Perth with his family in 1932. He served with the air force during the Second World War until his capture in 1940. In 1949 Taylor returned to Western Australia and settled in the Darling Ranges on the outskirts of Perth, where he became fascinated with the bush landscape and forest forms which became central to his work. In 1967 he moved to Northcliffe in the heart of the tall-timber karri and jarrah forests of the south-west of Western Australia where he produced some of his most powerful, impeccably crafted evocations of nature. He died on 19 July 2001.
As Daniel Thomas has remarked, ‘Howard Taylor was an Australian and his brilliant gifts and stunning vision was totally focused on the depiction of his beloved Australian bush. His vision, however, went far beyond the focus of any painter before him, in that none of them, irrespective of their unquestioned brilliance, ever interrogated and captured the complexity of structure, the ephemeral quality of its light and colour, or the rich and subtle patina of its living forms, as he did’.
Head of Australian Art
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra