Australia 1855 – 1917
Looking towards Hanging Rock from Mount Macedon
[Towards Hanging Rock, Macedon]
oil on canvas laid on board
25.5 (h) x 35.5 (w) cm
Benalla Art Gallery Ledger Gift, 1980
A little before he painted this sketch, McCubbin wrote to Roberts on 27 January 1909: ‘Well we are up at Macedon for a month and I am making sketches for a picture or two ... such a subject for colour—and the grey brown gold gums and the opalescent sky’ (Tom Roberts letters, ML).
The McCubbins had purchased a cottage in Annie’s name at Mount Macedon, in September 1901. They called it ‘Fontainebleau’, and the family lived there for four years. McCubbin stayed with his sisters in Melbourne during the week, and returned to ‘Fontainebleau’ on the weekends. After renting a house in Shipley Street South Yarra in 1905, they continued to visit ‘Fontainebleau’ on weekends and during vacations.
In this work McCubbin depicted a scene at some distance from his own property. He showed a farm in the foreground, and the Hesket plains below, with Hanging Rock (Mount Diogenes) in the distance on the right, and the smaller Mount Jim Jim on the left. He was more interested in capturing the atmosphere of the place than exact topography. As noted in the catalogue to the Exhibition of paintings of the late Fred McCubbin in 1949, this work is a ‘beautiful example of delicate and broken colour’. McCubbin revelled in the incandescent colours of the landscape, using purples, yellows and reds in small dabs of dry paint. He visualised a sense of air in the sky by applying the pastel pigments with soft, whisper-like gestures of the brush.
McCubbin subsequently used this landscape to provide a background in his large painting, Hauling timber, Macedon Heights (cat 42).