"His later landscape reveals a greater refinement of drawing, a more subtle engagement with the elements of Nature, upon which the mood of the artist is indelibly but delicately impressed."
Lionel Lindsay, 1938
'Weetangera, Canberra' was Gruner's seventh and last Wynne Prize award and also won the Society of Artists award for the best picture in their annual exhibition for 1937. Together with other works painted after his return from Europe in 1925, it follows a marked departure from the works of his earlier Emu Plains series (also on display) and shows his awareness of the concerns of modern painting.
Towards the end of his life, when this work was painted, Gruner told friends that the areas around Bellingen and Canberra had the greatest clarity of light, that quality that he had '... travelled the continent looking for'. In this painting of the Murrumbidgee River at Weetangera, Gruner has thinned his paint, allowing it to flow with and thereby emphasise the anatomy and pattern of the landscape.
Following his return to Australia in 1921, Gruner's increased interest in design was influenced by George Lambert, as well as the experience of making aerial sketches whilst flying with a friend in 1920. Whilst in England in 1924 - 25 he had been impressed by the opinions and works of various leading English and French artists, such as William Orpen, Gauguin and Cézanne. Norman Lindsay recalled some of Gruner's frequent maxims at this time: 'Paint can't be too thin. No picture should be bigger than two by three feet. Style is more important than subject. Paint should have a dry, pastel-like surface'.
In his will, Elioth Gruner provided for an annual 'Gruner Prize' competition for the best oil landscape painted by a student resident in New South Wales, which continues to the present day, providing a practical embodiment of his generosity towards his fellow artists.
Australian Art Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1997