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After winning the 1963 Helena Rubinstein Travelling Scholarship, Fred Williams visited Europe. The following year he returned inspired by the work he had seen of Gustave Courbet. This influence can be seen in the generous application of paint in the foliage of this painting. Williams and his family had moved into a small house on two acres of land at Upwey, in the Dandenong Ranges outside of Melbourne. The location of the house and studio in a valley became the inspiration for the high horizon line of this, and many other paintings.

Text by Bernard Smith from Two centuries of Australian art from the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, National Gallery of Victoria and Thames & Hudson, 2003 p.126

Details

  • Title: Upwey landscape
  • Creator: Fred Williams
  • Date Created: 1965
  • Physical Dimensions: 147.5 x 183.3 cm (Unframed)
  • Type: Paintings
  • Rights: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Felton Bequest, 1965, © National Gallery of Victoria
  • External Link: National Gallery of Victoria
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Biography: Williams was born in Richmond, Melbourne in 1927. He studied at the National Gallery School from 1942–49, and was associated with the George Bell School from 1946 to 1949. At the end of 1951 Williams travelled to London and worked as a picture framer and studied at the Chelsea School of Art. Returning to Australia in 1956 he painted landscapes in Mittagong that were exhibited and critically well reviewed. He exhibited regularly and gradually became widely accepted for his poetic vision that offered a new view of the Australian bush and redefined the way we see the land. Williams was an affable and genial man with a wide circle of friends. He was a member of the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council, 1973–76, and a founding Member of Council of the National Gallery of Australia, 1975–82. He had a solo exhibition at MoMA, New York, in 1977. Fred Williams died from cancer in Melbourne in 1982; his passing was mourned nationally. A touring memorial retrospective was mounted by the National Gallery of Australia in 1987 and 2011. In 2002, his magnificent Pilbara series, 1979–81, was presented to the National Gallery of Victoria by Rio Tinto.

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