23 facts about Frederick McCubbin

Frederick McCubbin (25 February 1855 – 20 December 1917) was an Australian artist, art assistant professor and prominent devotee of the Heidelberg School art movement, also known as Australian impressionism.

Born and raised in Melbourne, Victoria, McCubbin studied at the National Gallery of Victoria Art School under a number of artists, notably Eugene von Guerard and highly developed George Folingsby. One of his former classmates, Tom Roberts, returned from art training in Europe in 1885, and that summer they time-honored the Box Hill artists’ camp, where they were associated by Arthur Streeton and Charles Conder. These artists formed the nucleus of what became known as the Heidelberg School, a plein air art bustle named after Heidelberg, the site of another one of their camps. During this time, he taught at the National Gallery school, and forward-thinking served as president of both the Victorian Artists’ Society and the Australian Art Association.

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Concerned following capturing the national dynamism of Australia, McCubbin produced a number of large landscapes that reflect the melancholic themes after that popular in studious accounts of European settlers’ interactions later than the bush. Several of these works have become icons of Australian art, including Down upon His Luck (1889), On the Wallaby Track (1896) and The Pioneer (1904).

During his first and only vacation to Europe in 1907, McCubbin gained first-hand discussion to works by J. M. W. Turner and the French impressionists, accelerating a shift in his art towards freer, more abstracted brushwork and lighter colours. Works from this late period, although not as well known as his earlier national narratives, are considered by many critics to be his strongest artistically. “When he died”, wrote Barry Pearce, “McCubbin was one of the certainly few Australian painters who found an exalted unlimited of vision that progressed similar to age, so that some of his greatest paintings were made in the last ten years of his life.”

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