The mystic mill

Henry Rielly, 1845-19051872

State Library Victoria

State Library Victoria

This curious painting depicts an allegorical scene in the Yarra Valley. One reading of the work is that it symbolises the change of seasons from winter to spring. Another is that through the use of European medieval imagery, particularly the 'mill of youth' legend, it becomes an uplifting metaphor for life in the Antipodes.

Rielly shows the elderly and infirm toiling up a steep hill towards the sun and exultation. Some expire on their journey, while those who enter the mystic mill emerge as fanciful characters epitomising the joys of youth.

The landscape is an accurate depiction of the Yarra River flats, perhaps somewhere in the vicinity of Yarra Glen, where the artist often painted. The windmill is the product of the artist's imagination, as there were no windmills of this design operating in Victoria when this was painted.

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  • Title: The mystic mill
  • Creator: Henry Rielly, 1845-1905
  • Date: 1872
  • Location: Yarra Valley, Victoria
  • Rights: This work is out of copyright. No copyright restrictions apply.
  • lithograph: Painting
  • View more information about this image in the State Library Victoria catalogue: http://search.slv.vic.gov.au/MAIN:SLV_VOYAGER1707460
  • View a full-size version of this image: http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/248330
  • Physical dimensions: 45.0 x 61.0 cm. in frame 60.2 x 75.6 x 2.7 cm.
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • A.E. Ferris: Henry Rielly arrived in Victoria aboard the Monteagle in April 1853, as a child of seven. Between 1870 and 1885 he exhibited with the Victorian Academy of Arts, and he was a member of the Academy's council from 1875. Rielly and his sister Isabella both exhibited paintings of Queensland at the Academy in 1885. It is thought that he moved to Queensland permanently at this time. Rielly also exhibited with the Queensland Art Society until 1902.