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“The Spirit of the Drought” by Arthur Streeton

"The Spirit of the Drought" by Arthur Streeton

“The Spirit of the Drought” by Arthur Streeton

“The Spirit of the Drought” by Arthur Streeton depicts a common theme in the work of the artist associated with the Symbolist movement of the 1880s and 1890s. Symbolist art drew inspiration from dreams, fantasies, poems, and ideas, rather than reality. “Hot Wind” by Charles Conder is similar in its symbolism.

Arthur Streeton was an Australian landscape painter and leading member of the Heidelberg School, also known as Australian Impressionism. Streeton’s works can be found in many of the major Australian galleries and museums, including the National Gallery, London. Where it can be found alongside significant impressionist works by Claude Monet and Edouard Manet.

Arthur Streeton

Arthur Streeton (1867 – 1943) was an Australian landscape painter and leading member of the “Heidelberg School,” also known as Australian Impressionism. Streeton’s works can be found in many Australian galleries and museums, next to the significant impressionist works of Claude Monet and Edouard Manet. Streeton was influenced by French Impressionism and the works of J.M.W. Turner.

Streeton was born in Victoria, Australia, and commenced art studies at the National Gallery School, Victoria. During this time, he began his association with fellow artists Frederick McCubbin and Tom Roberts. Arthur Streeton and his fellow Australian artists who painted “en Plein air” in Heidelberg on the outskirts of Melbourne were labeled members of the “Heidelberg School.” The term has since evolved to cover painters who worked together at “artists’ camps” around Melbourne and Sydney in the 1880s and 1890s. Along with Streeton, Withers, Tom Roberts, Charles Conder, and Frederick McCubbin are considered key figures of the movement. The movement has recently been described as “Australian Impressionism.”

Drawing on naturalist and impressionist ideas, the “Australian Impressionists” sought to capture Australian life, the bush, and the harsh sunlight that typifies the country. Their works are today part of Australia’s cultural heritage and include many classic stories of Australian folklore, made famous in the works of Australian bush poets.

The Spirit of the Drought

  • Title:               The Spirit of the Drought
  • Artist:             Arthur Streeton
  • Year:               1896
  • Medium:         Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:   34.7 h x 37.2 w cm
  • Museum:        National Gallery of Australia

Arthur Streeton

A Tour of the National Gallery of Australia


“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms.”
– Barack Obama


Photo Credits: 1) Arthur Streeton [Public domain]

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