Frederick McCubbin (1855–1917) was a son of Melbourne. He was born and brought up in working-class Melbourne, he trained at the National Gallery of Victoria’s art school from 1872 to 1886 and was drawing master there from 1886 to 1917. He lived in Melbourne and its surrounds for his entire life (bar a few months), and made Melbourne the central subject of his art. No other Melbourne artist was better known than he during his lifetime.
Working together with Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton and Charles Conder in Melbourne between 1885 and 1890, McCubbin was part of the legendary group in Australian art—the Australian impressionists. He was also a friend of E Phillips Fox and Tudor St George Tucker, and his association with them expanded his approach to art.
McCubbin had a gentle presence, and the air of a poet and dreamer. He was kindly, sincere and single-minded in his outlook. He was energetic, fun, warm and gregarious—and would gesticulate freely with his arms and hands. He was a thinking man, and he liked to make others think and laugh; an extensive and discriminating reader, particularly of biography and high fiction, he enjoyed talking on a wide range of topics.
From 1907 to 1917 McCubbin produced his most brilliant works, ones which express his sense of delight in, and comfort within, the Australian landscape. He made a major change in his approach to his art when he returned to Melbourne after his first and only trip to Europe in 1907, aged 52.Read more
- Conserving McCubbin (392 kb, pdf)
- 'Happy beyond measure': a life (544kb, pdf)
- ABC Radio National interview (ABC podcast)
- ABC '7:30 Report' story
- ABC Radio 'Bush Telegraph': The legacy of Frederick McCubbin (mp3, 26/04/10)
- Governor-General's exhibition opening address
Primary school resource
This discovery trail will show you the artist’s painting and drawing methods. Find out how Frederick McCubbin applied colour and what mediums and techniques he used. The drawing on this page shows you how McCubbin held his palette while painting. An artist’s palette is a thin, rounded board on which paint is mixed.
- Download resource 8 MB (Adobe Reader PDF)
Secondary school resource
This education resource, produced to accompany the exhibition McCubbin: Last Impressions 1907–17, introduces teachers and students to the work of this significant Australian artist. The exhibition looks at the work of Frederick McCubbin (1855–1917) in the last decade of his life and includes 76 works.
This kit has been designed to be used in conjunction with a visit to the exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia. Additional information is available on the exhibition website.
- Download resource 12 MB (Adobe Reader PDF)