Gisborne, New Zealand 1882 – Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 1939

  • Australia from 1883
  • England 1924-25

Autumn morning c.1916 Materials & Technique: paintings, oil on canvas mounted on cardboard

Primary Insc: signed l.r., oil, "E GRUNER", not dated
Dimensions: 34.5 h x 44.4 w cm framed (overall) 55.4 h x 65.3 w x 5.0 d cm
Acknowledgement: The Oscar Paul Collection, Gift of Henriette von Dallwitz and of Richard Paul in honour of his father 1965
Accession No: NGA 65.41
  • It must have been with queer exultation of inspired emotion that Gruner, wrapped up in chaff-bags to keep the chill out of his blood, watched for those clear, colourless dawns to arrive, with a palette set to a key that would paint the unpaintable, light itself.
    Norman Lindsay 19181

    Autumn morning belongs to a group of pastoral landscapes by Elioth Gruner that were painted in the Emu Plains district near the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. Based in Sydney, Gruner made many painting excursions throughout much of New South Wales. The subtle, tonal qualities of Autumn morning exemplify Gruner’s primary interest in the effects of light on the landscape.

    In Autumn morning Gruner depicts cattle gathered under the expanse of a tree in the first light of day. The dark silhouette of the tree contrasts with the cool whites, greys and lilacs of the foliage and sky. These colours convey the crisp conditions of an autumn morning, the sense of frost dissipating with the warmth of the rising sun. The composition is dominated by the tree, which stretches out across the sky, its limbs casting shadows across the grass. The low horizon accentuates the scale of the tree and its solid trunk and sinuous branches resemble the shape of inverted human lungs, a complex arrangement of connective tissue and blood vessels. In Autumn morning the tree is transformed into a metaphor for breath and the vitality of nature.

    1 Norman Lindsay, Elioth Gruner: twenty-four reproductions in colour from original oil paintings, Sydney: Shepherd Press, 1947, n.p.

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra