In The coming of spring Frederick McCubbin demonstrated his longstanding interest in evoking qualities of light and the atmospheric conditions particular to each season. He skilfully manipulated the surfaces of his paintings to create a sense of dappled light and used luminescent colours and layers of paint to develop a rich and textured finish.
The view in this work is from the artist’s garden on Kensington Road in Melbourne’s South Yarra, looking over the river to the industrial suburb of Richmond. McCubbin completed a number of paintings from this garden, delighting in the seasonal variation and the subtleties of the environment. In The coming of spring the banks of the Yarra River are covered with the new growth of the season; a cow in the foreground grazes on the soft, damp grasses. Looking into the distance we see Richmond and the city of Melbourne beyond.
McCubbin’s paintings of his home environment are important statements by the artist, who claimed that:
It is precisely the pictures of things familiar to us of homely subjects … which most appeal to us and more often therefore rise to true greatness … the farm with its neighbouring clump of gum trees, the fields that merge into wayward forests, the winding road with its bullock wagons, men and women toiling, horses and cattle and all things that savour of man.1
1 Bridget Whitelaw, The art of Frederick McCubbin, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1991, p 104
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010