Australia 1927 – Australia 1982
The Nattai River
oil on composition board
signed lower left
88.5 (h) x 92.1 (w) cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased 1958
© estate of Fred Williams
Williams visited the Southern Highlands in New South Wales in 1957 where he sketched and painted images of trees, rocks and the Nattai River. Among the distinguishing aspects of Williams’s landscapes of this region are the softness of light and the subtle approach to colour and tonality. He was interested in the views of the artist Max Meldrum who felt that the tonalities of the Australian bush are ‘the most beautiful in the world’. At the same time he was inspired by the Post-Impressionist work of Paul Cézanne. In The Nattai River the tree trunks appear almost weightless against the luminous rocks and sweeping river in the foreground. This painting was Williams’s first oil to enter a public collection.