An image of Fire's on

Arthur Streeton

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

Fire's on

Other titles:
"Fire's on" Lapstone tunnel
19th c Australian art
Further information

Arthur Streeton's visions of the landscape have defined an image of Australia. 'Fire's on' in particular is considered his greatest evocation of the country's heat and sunlight. Painted a year after the artist left Melbourne for Sydney, it constitutes a radical new type of landscape in his oeuvre. Its vertical composition and the high horizon line bring focus to the steep terrain with precarious rocks and dead tree-trunks.

The painting captures a critical moment during the construction of a railway line across the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney: the death of a railway worker in an explosion. 'Fire's on' was the warning call before the blast, as the gang dynamited the Lapstone Tunnel through the hillside. The human drama of the painting, however, is overshadowed by the heroism of the landscape itself.

Place of origin
Lapstone, New South Wales, Australia
oil on canvas
183.8 x 122.5 cm; 225.5 x 164.0 x 6.5 cm frame
Signature & date

Signed and dated l.l., brown oil "Arthur StrEEton. 1891".

Purchased 1893
Accession number