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On display on Level 1

Frederick McCUBBIN

Australia 1855 – 1917

Child in the bush 1913 Title Notes: (Girl in forest, Mount Macedon) (Landscape with child) (Mount Macedon landscape with girl) see notes tab
Place made: Mount Macedon, Victoria, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, oil on canvas

Primary Insc: signed and dated l.r., oil "F. McCubbin/ 1913"
Dimensions: 50.8 h x 76.2 w cm framed (overall) 80.4 h x 106.0 w x 13.9 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1962
Accession No: NGA 62.34

In Girl in forest, Mount Macedon Frederick McCubbin revisits a central theme in his oeuvre: the activities of children in the Australian bush. He had previously painted scenes of children lost in the bush—narratives of innocence and vulnerability within the landscape. McCubbin also explored the magical worlds invented by children through storytelling and imagination. In works such as What the little girl saw in the bush 1904 (private collection, reproduced p 28) he sought to capture ideas of creative freedom and expression that children unselfconsciously bring to their surrounds.

In Girl in forest, Mount Macedon a young girl wanders through the bush carrying a basket, possibly collecting wildflowers or berries. She is small beside the large trees and thick growth, her white dress setting her apart from her environment. McCubbin has paid close attention to the study of dappled light through trees and foliage. Areas of the canvas appear abstracted and flecks of colour are layered over each other using a palette knife. Moving back from the work the scene comes into focus—a glorious image of gold, pink and violet; bracken, bark and gum.

Girl in forest, Mount Macedon depicts the bush close to Fontainebleau, the McCubbin’s residence at Mount Macedon about 60 kilometres north–west of Melbourne. The child in the image is the artist’s youngest daughter, Kathleen, who posed for her father numerous times.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra