The letter, Frederick McCubbin
  • Artist
    Frederick McCubbin
  • Born
    1855
  • Died
    1917
  • Title
    The letter
  • Date of Production
    1884
  • Medium
    Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions
    69.1 x 51.0 cm
  • Credit Details
    Purchased, 1946

Frederick McCubbin

The letter

One of the founders of the Heidelberg School established in 1885, Fred McCubbin attended the National Gallery School under G. F. Folingsby (1830-1891).  McCubbin's domestic situation kept him in Melbourne and unlike his colleagues he did not get the opportunity to visit Europe until 1907.

Painted in 1884 The letter is one of McCubbin's early works featuring a figure in a landscape.  The depiction of an elegantly gowned woman holding what is presumably a love letter strolling along a river bank in the Australian bush has a strong anecdotal element to it.  It may have been inspired by the play The Professor performed in Melbourne in 1882.

Essentially a study in light and colour, McCubbin blocked the painting in with vermillion before adding the other colours. The figure which appears to have been based on a full length portrait study of his sister Harriet also seems to have been added later  and was possibly painted indoors.   Harriet also appears as the model in Tom Roberts' painting A summer morning's tiff which is also in the collection.