Ballarat, Victoria, Australia 1864 – Looe, England 1939
Templestowe [Grey day, Templestowe] c.1893 Materials & Technique: paintings, oil on canvas on composition board
When the artists’ camp at Eaglemont dispersed in 1890, artists continued to paint in the Heidelberg area, at Charterisville and Templestowe. Among those who worked in the area was David Davies.
In Templestowe, David Davies depicted the end of the day, a moment of tranquillity and rest. He created a composition that is daring in its abstract simplicity, and painted it energetically, placing patches of colour knowingly side by side. Three quarters of the picture is no more than a field: a study of the scraggy grasses and bushes, the gentle undulating hills and slopes around Templestowe. But unlike the work of many of his contemporaries, who were concerned with creating national images and the glare of the Australian midday sun, Davies conveyed the quiet face of nature and a mood of reverie.
Davies had studied at the National Gallery School in Melbourne and was one of a generation of students who were attracted to painting out of doors. By the time he returned to Australia in 1893, after studying in Europe and painting in France and St Ives, he had developed a subtle and refined technique. He had viewed the ‘nocturnes’ of James McNeill Whistler, and these confirmed his interest in depicting the soft glow of evening light and scenes with long foregrounds and high horizons.
Deciding that he could not earn enough from his art in Melbourne, Davies returned to Europe in 1897, where he worked in picturesque areas of England and France. There he made a reputation for his watercolours of village street scenes and rural life, until his death over 40 years later.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002