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“The Purple Noon’s Transparent Might” by Arthur Streeton

Arthur Streeton - ‘The purple noon's transparent might’ - Google Art Project

“The Purple Noon’s Transparent Might” by Arthur Streeton

“The Purple Noon’s Transparent Might” by Arthur Streeton depicts the blue and gold of Australia’s sun-drenched landscape. In early 1896 Streeton travelled to the upper reaches of the Hawkesbury River, between Richmond Bridge and Windsor in New South Wales, Australia, where he was inspired by the expansive view looking towards the Blue Mountains. The title ‘The purple noon’s transparent might’ takes its name from a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley that embraces the natural world. Painted over a two days during a hot summer he contemplated Shelley poem.

On a ledge above the oaks and eucalypts, Streeton painted this work in two days, during a shade temperature of 108 degrees Fahrenheit. Later Streeton recalled he worked on the canvas in ‘a kind of artistic intoxication with thoughts of Shelley. Streeton wrote dramatically:

“My work may perish, but I must work so as to go on, …

When the painting was exhibited it was immediately recognised as a masterpiece and it received the many tributes.

Shelley Poem

The sun is warm, the sky is clear,
The waves are dancing fast and bright,
Blue isles and snowy mountains wear
The purple noon’s transparent might,
The breath of the moist earth is light,
Around its unexpanded buds;
Like many a voice of one delight,
The winds, the birds, the ocean floods,
The City’s voice itself, is soft like Solitude’s.

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

‘Stanzas Written in Dejection, Near Naples’ is considered one of Shelley’s finest poems, It was published by Mrs Shelley as “Posthumous Poems” in 1824, where it is dated as ‘December 1818’.  It is one of his representative Romantic poems, with its depiction of individual feeling against the backdrop of the natural world at the shores of the sea at the Bay of Naples.

The Purple Noon’s Transparent Might

Arthur Streeton


“Unless you’re willing to have a go, fail miserably, and have another go,
success won’t happen.”

– Phillip Adams


Photo Credit: Arthur Streeton [Public domain, Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons