The three gums , Hans Heysen
  • Artist
    Hans Heysen
  • Born
    1877
  • Died
    1968
  • Title
    The three gums
  • Date of Production
    1915-1920
  • Medium
    oil on canvas
  • Dimensions
    159 x 128 cm
  • Credit Details
    Laurence Clark Bequest Fund, 1921

Hans Heysen

The three gums

Arriving in Australia from Germany at the age of 6, Hans Heysen studied at the Norwood Art School, the Adelaide School of Design and finally in Paris. This is a magnificent example of the type of grand landscape for which Heysen became famous. Such paintings captured the national imagination and led to a swarm of imitators whose work was often indifferent.

Originally offered to the National Gallery of Victoria in 1915, The Three Gums was, according to the artist, rejected by the board of that institution because of prevailing anti-German sentiment during the First World War. The painting was eventually purchased for Ballarat with funds from a bequest that stipulated that it should be spent only on the works of Australian artists. The irony of this was not lost on Heysen.

Heysen was not entirely satisfied with the original image, and reworked parts of the painting setting the figure back against the tree and raising the heads of the bullocks. The grand trees, the sun drenched vista, the manifest strength of the bullocks and man resting from his worthy labours all combine to create a work that has an heroic quality, a characteristic that had not been seen in Australian art since the grand canvases of Tom Roberts of the late 1880's.