Charles CONDER, Hot Wind Enlarge 1 /1

On display on Level 1

Charles CONDER

Tottenham, Middlesex, England 1868 – Virginia Water, Surrey, England 1909

  • Australia 1884-90
  • England and France from 1890

Hot Wind 1889 Title Notes: Dear Daniel This makes sense to me - go with capital H and capital W. Cheers
Place made: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, oil on board

Dimensions: 29.4 h x 75.0 w cm framed 38.8 h x 84.6 w x 4.2 d cm
Acknowledgement: Sarah and Baillieu Myer Family Foundation 2006
Accession No: NGA 2006.386

Painted during the great Victorian drought of 1888–89, Hot wind caused a stir when it was first exhibited. The painting is arguably the most important of Charles Conder’s group of allegorical paintings, reflecting his awareness of contemporary symbolist trends in Europe.

It evokes the intense bright light and searing heat of the Australian summer. The bleached, shimmering tonality of the foreground landscape is characteristic of the artist’s foremost works. Certainly, Conder felt it was one of his best paintings and his artist friend Arthur Streeton was impressed and delighted by the way that the design broke with tradition.

In a letter of 1889 Conder wrote that Hot wind represented the harshness of drought. The femme fatale breathing smoke from a burning brazier across parched desert plains towards a distant town aptly symbolises the spectre of drought. He heightened the eerie effect by creating an emptiness of the space in the foreground with a serpent slithering towards the recumbent spirit. The painting also reflects Conder’s profound awareness of human mortality (as a result of the death of his brother).


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008

Painted during the great Victorian drought of 1888–89, Hot wind caused a stir when it was first exhibited. The painting is arguably the most important of Charles Conder’s group of allegorical paintings, reflecting his awareness of contemporary Symbolist trends in Europe.

It evokes the intense bright light and searing heat of the Australian summer. The bleached, shimmering tonality of the foreground landscape is characteristic of the artist’s most celebrated works. Certainly, Conder felt it was one of his best paintings and his artist friend Arthur Streeton was impressed and delighted by the way that the design broke with tradition.

In a letter of 1889 Conder wrote that Hot wind represented the harshness of drought. The femme fatale breathing smoke from a burning brazier across parched desert plains towards a distant town aptly symbolises the spectre of drought. He heightened the eerie effect by creating an emptiness of space in the foreground with a serpent slithering towards the recumbent spirit. The painting also reflects Conder’s profound awareness of human mortality (as a result of the death of his mother and brother from tuberculosis).


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2014
From: Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2014