Droving into the light

Hans HEYSEN: artist

On Display

About the work


German-born Hans Heysen painted this idyllic vision of the Australian landscape in his studio at Hahndorf, a village near Adelaide where he painted for much of his life. Heysen first completed the painting in 1914, but after it was rejected for acquisition by the National Gallery of Victoria, he made several changes to the composition, finishing it in 1921. The version we see today is a hymn to light and land. The hazy sunset view of a stockman and his flock heading home suggests that for Heysen this country’s economic and spiritual wealth was to be found in rural Australia. (August 2018)

German-born Hans Heysen painted this work in his studio at Hahndorf, a village near Adelaide where he painted for much of his life. Painted from a combination of direct observation and several studies from nature, Heysen's main consideration was the placement of the lights and darks and the structural line leading the eye out into the light. The work embodies an idyllic rural state and Heysen's relentless preoccupation with light and colour. After being rejected for acquisition by the National Gallery of Victoria, Heysen realised the weakness of the composition and made several changes including enlarging the central tree and the rider and horse, and altering the shape of the two trees on the left. As Heysen later wrote, this “helped to bind the two sides and made a great improvement, materially enhancing the whole conception”.
Title
Droving into the light
Artist/Maker and role
Hans HEYSEN: artist
Date
1914-1921
Medium
oil on canvas
Measurements
155.0 x 122 cm (sight)
177.3 x 210 cm (framed)
Display location
Credit line
Gift of Mr W H Vincent, 1922
The State Art Collection, The Art Gallery of Western Australia
Accession number
1922/00P1

This is one of the paintings in our collection.



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