An image of Blue Mountain tunnel

Arthur Streeton

(Australia, England, Australia 08 Apr 1867 – 01 Sep 1943)

Blue Mountain tunnel

Other titles:
Blue Mountain Tunnel, Cutting the tunnel, Blue Mountains
Not on display
Further information

Arthur Streeton and Tom Roberts are celebrated for having given a distinctly Australian flavour to landscape painting at the end of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, painting what is popularly considered an Australian version of Impressionism. It was Streeton's ability to create a particularly convincing sensation of Australian space and light in his paintings, with fresh and vigorous paint handling, that most sets him apart from his friends and contemporaries. On the recommendation of Julian Ashton, his painting 'Still glides the stream, and shall for ever glide' 1890, was purchased by the Gallery in the year it was painted. It was also the first painting by him to be bought by a public gallery, precipitating his move to Sydney. Furthermore, it is one of several masterpieces by Streeton in the Gallery's collection, rivalling his archetypal 'Fire's on' 1891 (purchased in 1893), 'The railway station, Redfern' 1893, and 'Cremorne pastoral' 1895.

This watercolour is not a study for the painting 'Fire's on' but an independent work, preceding the painting rather than following it, contrary to its inscribed date. Streeton enthusiastically referred to it in a letter to Frederick McCubbin in October 1891 (refer to Croll 'Smike to Bulldog' 1946, pg. 20-22) and it was included in the Gallery's exhibition of selected works from its watercolour competition of 1891. It also attracted the attention of a reviewer for the 'Sydney Morning Herald' who, on 1 December 1891, noted that this watercolour:

'... does not appear to have been viewed with favour by the trustees. But it will more than repay a second look, and there may be some visitors who might think its merits entitle it to a place beside some of the pictures chosen. The subject is a 'Blue Mountain Tunnel' and the choice appears to us to be as characteristic as the treatment is admirable. There is the iron track, with the sandy mounds turned up on each side, and the masses of rock through which the workers have driven their way - colour, tone and subject all strikingly real.'

Streeton entered the watercolour in the Gallery's 1891 watercolour prize unsigned or inscribed, as was required, dating it (incorrectly) only on its return to him.

Place of origin
Lapstone, New South Wales, Australia
incorrectly inscribed 1892 (1891)
pencil, watercolour, Chinese white highlights on paper
73.6 x 58.5 cm sheet; 101.2 x 83.0 x 3.5mm frame
Signature & date

Signed and dated l.l. corner, brown watercolour "Streeton/ 1892 [sic]".

Gift of Howard Hinton 1937
Accession number