Frederick McCUBBIN, Triumphal Arch at Princes Bridge, Melbourne Enlarge 1 /1

Frederick McCUBBIN

Australia 1855 – 1917

Triumphal Arch at Princes Bridge, Melbourne 1901 Place made: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, oil on pine panel

Primary Insc: signed lower left in oil, 'F. McCubbin', not dated
Dimensions: 26.0 h x 34.4 w cm framed (overall) 480 h x 580 w x 110 d mm
Acknowledgement: Given by Hugh McCubbin to the Commonwealth as a first hand record of a great historical event and to mark the centenary of the birth of Frederick McCubbin, 1955
Accession No: NGA 59.28

Frederick McCubbin painted this oil sketch, Triumphal Arch at Princes Bridge, Melbourne in 1901, possibly during the procession. In May the grand ceremony of the opening of the Commonwealth Parliament took place and this temporary arch was created for the triumphal procession of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York.

The arch dominates the composition on the left connecting the dark, scumbled foreground with the luminous gold brushstrokes of the sky. The procession is indicated by columns and fluttering banners. Although no figures are seen there is a sense of pageantry more fully explored in his later painting Princes Bridge 1908.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

The opening of the inaugural Australian Parliament by the Duke of Cornwall and York sparked a week-long celebration in Melbourne in May 1901. Large crowds lined the streets to give an enthusiastic welcome to the heir to the throne as he and the Duchess travelled through Melbourne to the Exhibition building, along a path decorated with grand temporary arches.

This luminous impression was Frederick McCubbin’s first response to Federation, most likely painted on the spot while the parade made its way over Princes Bridge. McCubbin evidently worked quickly, using generous brush strokes and a warm palette to convey the energy of communal celebration.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2013
From: Miriam kelly, Capital & Country: The Federation Years 1900 – 1913, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2013