Born in Germany, Hans Heysen immigrated with his family to Adelaide in 1883. Heysen first began painting at Norwood Art School run by James Ashton and later enrolled at the South Australian School of Design. With financial assistance from four Adelaide patrons including Mr A L Davidson, Heyson was able to further his studies over four years at the Academic des Beaux Arts in Paris returning to Adelaide in 1904.
Heysen's interest in the Australian landscape prompted him to settle on a 60-hectare property at Hahndorf. This land, the surrounding areas of the Mount Lofty Ranges as well as the Flinders Ranges to the north, were extensively explored by Heysen and then proceeded to become the artist's preferred subject matter.
Heysens' pictorial landscapes, regardless whether they were watercolours or oil paintings, emit a luminous quality unrivalled by any of his peers. This ability to paint light so realistically allows the viewer not only to identify the time of day - dawn, midday or dusk - but also the extremes of the Australian climate. In a letter to Lionel Linsday dated 1917, Heysen wrote: "Of course light interests me as much as ever but I am seeking it more under the everyday aspect of nature. Rural life under these conditions has always held a great fascination for me and also the animals that toil for man.... It is surprising what beauty enveloping light gives ordinary things in nature..." (I North, Hans Heysen - Centennary Retrospective 1877 - 1977, Adelaide, 1977, p. 10).
In Morning Mist, it is evident that Heysen has mastered his palette to achieve an ambiance so natural and un-theatrical. Through his palette Heysen also illustrates the depth and immensity of the Australian landscape and his depiction of the cattle amongst the soaring gum trees most cetainly heightens this notion. The trees in this work also provide pictorial support and balance.
Hans Heysen won the Wynne Prize for landscape painting nine times between 1904 and 1932 and is regarded as one of our most successful artists to capture the beauty and scale of the Australian landscape.
Although one of the largest oil paintings heysen completed, Morning Mist conveys a lightness and softness which clearly doesn't overpower the viewer. It certainly merits its position as a masterwork.