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Fred WILLIAMS

Richmond, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 1927 – Hawthorn, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 1982

  • England 1951-56

Snow storm, Kosciusko 1976-77 Place made: Hawthorn East, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, oil on canvas

Primary Insc: signed lower left
Dimensions: 183.0 h x 101.6 w cm framed (overall) 1848 h x 1142 w x 67 d mm
Acknowledgement: Purchased with the assistance of the Ruth Komon bequest 2013
Accession No: NGA 2013.8
Image rights: © Estate of Fred Williams
Provenance:
  • Exhibited '19th anniversary exhibtion', Rudy Komon Gallery, Sydney, 1978

Fred Williams's remarkable Snow storm, Kosciusko was one of the surprises of the Gallery's recent retrospective Fred Williams: infinite horizons. He has often been thought of as a painter of the dry landscape rather than of the cool-climate mountainous terrain. However, as an avid weather-watcher, he became captivated by the landscape around Kosciusko National Park in New South Wales when he went with his wife Lyn and their children to stay with friends Ray and Diana Kidd in January 1975.

Ray Kidd recalls that Williams painted a work of the 'bowl of Perisher' the day after they arrived, rapidly completing a number of gouaches. Although it was summer, it was very cold with gusts blowing across the landscape. Williams was taken with the patterns of the snow and weather fluctuations. As he wrote in his diary on 11 January 1975: 'The fascinating patches of snow form themselves into inventive shapes … The day has everything weather wise. There is rain, sleet & snow, lowering blue clouds & brilliant sunshine'.

This feeling is beautifully conveyed in Snow storm, Kosciusko, painted back in his Melbourne studio. The format of the canvas and composition accentuate the height of the mountains. Williams was attracted to the subtle variations of the cool summer environment, revealed in his contrasting palette of icy blues and warm ochres; the ground dotted with bright red blooms and bleached by extremes of temperature. The atmospheric sky with soft clouds billowing over the edges of the curved horizon recalls Williams's early interest in JMW Turner. As an artist mindful of the Australian landscape tradition, he was also familiar with Eugene von Guérard's painting North-east view from the northern top of Mount Kosciusko 1863, acquired by the National Gallery of Australia in 1973.

Williams played a key role in developing the national art collection, first on the Commonwealth Art Advisory Board and then on the National Gallery's Council. It seems fitting that this evocative painting of the snow country close to the nation's capital should enter the national art collection in the year of Canberra's centenary. It has been purchased with the Ruth Komon Bequest Fund.

Deborah Hart Senior Curator, Australian Painting and Sculpture post 1920


in artonview, issue 74, Winter 2013

Fred Williams’s remarkable Snow storm, Kosciusko was one of the surprises of the Gallery’s retrospective Fred Williams: infinite horizons in 2011. He has often been thought of as a painter of the dry landscape rather than of the cool-climate mountainous terrain. However, as an avid weather-watcher, he became captivated by the landscape around Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales when he went with his wife Lyn and their children to stay with friends Ray and Diana Kidd in January 1975.

Ray Kidd recalls that Williams painted a work of the ‘bowl of Perisher’ the day after they arrived, rapidly completing a number of gouaches. Although it was summer, it was very cold with gusts blowing across the landscape. Williams wrote in his diary on 11 January 1975: ‘The fascinating patches of snow form themselves into inventive shapes … The day has everything weather wise. There is rain, sleet & snow, lowering blue clouds & brilliant sunshine’.

This feeling is beautifully conveyed in Snow storm, Kosciusko, painted on his return to his Melbourne studio. The format of the canvas and composition accentuate the height of the mountains, while the subtle variations of the cool summer environment are revealed in Williams’s contrasting palette of icy blues and warm ochres; the ground dotted with bright red blooms and bleached by extremes of temperature. The atmospheric sky recalls Williams’s early interest in JMW Turner. As an artist mindful of Australia’s landscape tradition, he was also familiar with Eugene von Guérard’s painting North-east view from the northern top of Mount Kosciusko 1863, acquired by the National Gallery of Australia in 1973.


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