An image of Nocturne no. 3, Commonwealth Lane

Danila Vassilieff

(Australia 1897 – 1958)

Nocturne no. 3, Commonwealth Lane

Other titles:
Nocturne, Commonwealth Lane
20th & 21st c Australian art
Further information

For my subjects I must find something that speaks to me. Something simple and elemental. I may find that anywhere - in a street, in the form of an apple, in a garden, or in a grimy slum lane.
Danila Vassilieff, 1936

Danila Vassilieff was a Russian refugee who escaped the Revolution by immigrating to Australia in 1923. He is credited with pioneering figurative expressionism and social realism in Australian art during the 1940s.
'Nocturne no 3, Commonwealth Lane' dates from Vassilieff's Sydney period (1935-36), when he had returned to Australia after several years spent travelling, working, and exhibiting throughout Asia, Europe, South America, and West Indies. It was displayed in the artist's first Sydney exhibition at Macquarie Galleries, in 1936, which polarised critical opinion for being 'ultra-modernist'. The inner-city street scene depicts the facades of terraced houses - since demolished -illuminated by a lone street light at night. Painted with spontaneity in a tertiary palette from his Surry Hills studio Vassilieff's representation of his newfound urban environment is fervent and defining.

oil on canvas
52.7 x 47.3 cm stretcher; 71.4 x 65.8 x 2.2 cm frame
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Purchased 1968
Accession number
© Heide Museum of Modern Art