Tom Roberts painted In a corner on the Macintyre at Newstead, near Inverell, in New South Wales. The bushranger Captain Thunderbolt (Frederick Ward) had worked in this area some years earlier. Roberts visited Newstead, where he painted the bushranging subject Bailed up 1895 and In a corner on the Macintyre.

One reading of the painting is that it depicts Captain Thunderbolt’s last stand in 1870, with the bushranger sheltering behind a boulder to the left of the horse, a trooper at the top of the cliff and puffs of smoke from rifle fire suggesting the presence of other troopers. The mood of this painting, however, is quiet rather than heroic, which suggests that Roberts was as much interested in conveying the poetry of the landscape as he was in telling a story. He captured the stillness, heat and light of the Australian bush, the translucent water at the foot of a natural rock wall, a snatch of nature. He gave the image a veracity and immediacy, creating the effect of coming upon a scene as one would in nature. It first appears tranquil and seemingly uninhabited; only after careful looking do the horse and crouching man become evident.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010

From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008


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