Date of Production
Oil on canvas
69.1 x 51.0 cm
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.