Australia 1855 – 1917
oil on canvas
34.6 (h) x 49.8 (w) cm
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide MJM Carter AO Collection
Reminding him of that great maritime city, Venice, Williamstown was an attractive and exciting painting location for McCubbin. He painted a series of works of this busy port and its ships.
In contrast to his more usual paintings of this area, Williamstown landscape is a quiet coastal scene showing boatsheds and shoreline, perhaps painted from one of the many piers on the calm waters of the bay. An earlier, smaller version of this painting is Australian scene (Williamstown) (cat 27).
Looking back to the shore, McCubbin’s painting is a quick impression of the landscape. It is bold and experimental in technique, and he used both brush and palette knife to apply the paint. He was less concerned with the subject matter than with the process of painting itself. This daring style was described by the artist’s son, Louis, as painting ‘at concert pitch’ (McCubbin 1949), especially in the use of strong, high-key colours to produce flickering light.