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Frederick McCubbin (1855-1917)
AUSTRALIAN PICTURES FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE LATE SIR DENYS LASDUN, CH (1914-2001), GRANDSON OF LOUIS AND GOLDA ABRAHAMS, PATRONS OF THE HEIDELBERG SCHOOL (LOTS 8-16)'Yes, well now, of the family, this man, my grandfather, called Louis Abrahams, has always for some reason interested me deeply. A rather tragic figure ... he was no mean painter himself, and he became the colleague and the patron in some ways of a very famous group of Australian painters, the first Impressionist painters of Australia ...'Sir Denys Lasdun in conversation with Jill Lever for National Life Story Collection: Architect's Lives, 12 Nov. 1996 Louis Abrahams was a member of the first of the celebrated Australian artists' camps, first recorded in camp with Tom Roberts (‘Bulldog’) and Frederick McCubbin (‘The Proff’) at Box Hill in March 1886. Works from Abrahams's (‘The Don’) own collection show the extent of his immediate connections with fellow students and artists in the vanguard of 'plein air' painting through the 1880s, in particular the 'friendship' portraits taken of him by Roberts, Mather, Rossi Ashton, Streeton (lot 9) and McCubbin (lot 10). Additionally Abrahams was also painted by Roberts in The artists' camp (1886) and sat for two of McCubbin's large pictures, Down on his Luck, 1889 (Art Gallery of Western Australia) and A bush burial, 1890 (Geelong Gallery). In spite of these close associations, Abrahams would not make a career in art, to his regret, spending more time in the 1890s in the family business. Louis married Golda Fig Brasch in Sydney in March 1888. Roberts painted a portrait of her (Mrs L. Abrahams, 1888, National Gallery of Victoria) in his studio in Grosvenor Chambers in Collins Street (where Abrahams also kept a studio) as a wedding present and companion piece to his recently discovered portrait of Louis completed in 1886 (National Gallery of Australia). In 1890 McCubbin named his first son Louis for Abrahams and Louis and Golda would reciprocate, naming their son Frederick. Abrahams was an occasional exhibitor and later, with his wife Golda, an amateur sketcher, made weekend excursions to the camp at Heidelberg, but he was gradually drawn away from painting by his duties with the family firm of B. Sniders and Abrahams, cigar retailers, in Lonsdale Street (the firm providing many of the cigar box lids used by the Heidelberg artists for their '9x5' impressions). The Abrahams continued to stay in touch with their artist friends, hosting soirées at their mansion in Kew, and, funded by their successful cigar business, Louis and his brother Lawrence, as well as Golda, were important patrons and collectors of the Heidelberg artists and their plein air precursors and followers. In September 1903 Louis himself had offered to fund a trip to London with McCubbin. Suffering from depression, Louis Abrahams shot himself months later so the trip never went ahead. Louis' widow Golda bought McCubbin's Sawing Timber (Christie's, London, 12 Dec. 2007, lot 25, £731,700) at McCubbin's Guild Hall exhibition in March 1907, and this and other sales from the exhibition finally enabled McCubbin to take his one and only European tour in the same year, the Abrahams patronage of the Australian Impressionists continuing after Louis' death. Some of the Abrahams' purchases, including McCubbin's A Bush Idyll and At Macedon, were sold at auction in Melbourne in 1919 (Australian Pictures Collected by the Late Louis Abrahams and others, Decoration Co., 15 August 1919): 'Amongst the patrons of Australian Art in its early stages the names of the two brothers Lawrence and Louis Abrahams stand very prominent. The brothers were intimately associated with many of the earlier artists, and their collections were naturally very similar in character. Art lovers will, therefore, now have the opportunity of acquiring good examples of the work of Streeton, McCubbin, Conder, Davies, Hilder, Longstaff, Heysen and others whose names are household words in the world of Australian Art.' (Foreword to the auction catalogue)
Frederick McCubbin (1855-1917)

The Yarra from Kensington Road, South Yarra

Frederick McCubbin (1855-1917)
The Yarra from Kensington Road, South Yarra
signed and dated 'F McCubbin 1911' (lower left)
oil on canvas
20 3/8 x 30in. (51.7 x 76.5cm.)
Golda Abrahams (1858-1945), widow of Louis Abrahams, and thence by descent to the present owners.

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Lot Essay

McCubbin's view is taken from his home, Carlsburg, at 42 Kensington Road, South Yarra. The house, one of the earliest in Melbourne, was built c.1846-48 and was originally set on 27 acres. When the McCubbins moved in 1907, following McCubbin's trip to Europe, the size of the land had reduced significantly: 'the loveliest place I have ever lived in, a charming old colonial house of stone, cool on the hottest days, perched right over the Yarra with three acres of garden and trees', McCubbin to Tom Roberts, 1908. The views from the garden and the garden itself, planted with gums, fruit trees, a peppercorn, and an old spreading lime, provided McCubbin with inspiration for numerous paintings through the last decade of his life.

The property overlooked the gardener's cottage (visible in the centre of the present work) of neighbouring Como House owned by the Armytage family. Como House's extensive grounds ran all the way down from McCubbin's fence to the edge of the river. The present view, looking across the Yarra to Richmond and the Burnley quarries relates closely to Moonrise, 1909 (National Gallery of Victoria), and the favourite motif of the gardener's cottage was featured perhaps most beautifully in The Cottage Children (Rain and Sunshine), 1910 (Private collection).

The present picture was possibly bought by Golda from McCubbin's joint exhibition with his son Louis (Pictures By Fred and Louis McCubbin) at the Athaenaeum Art Gallery, Collins Street, Melbourne in August 1912.

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