Sir Arthur Streeton etchings
Arthur Ernest Streeton, or ‘Smike’ as he was known to his friends, was born at Duneed, near Geelong, Victoria on the 8th April 1867.
He was the fourth of seven children of Charles Henry Streeton and Mary Blundell, nee Johnson. His family moved to Queenscliff in 1869, when his father, who was a School Teacher, was appointed Headmaster of the local School. In 1874, his father accepted a clerical position with the Education Department in Melbourne, and the family moved to Richmond, where Arthur attended the Punt Road State School.
In 1907 Sir Arthur returned to Queenscliff and writing to his friend Tom Roberts (Bulldog) he describes his time from the Ozone Hotel while working on a commission for the Baillieu family.
(Excerpt: Smike to Bulldog from the Ozone Hotel, Queenscliff. 5 Oct., 1907)
I’m here having an excellent time free of charge, and everything I like, Schnapper fishing thrown in, and doing a commission of Queensliff for Baillieu—30 x 20—Fifty guineas, and I’ve kept that price on nearly all I’ve shown of that size, sometimes realizing 60 and twice 75—and why not? I’ve given the chaps here a lesson—to put an extra penny on these prosperous times.”
In the November 2016 The Weekend Australian published the article, Unpublished etchings of Australian artist Sir Arthur Streeton brought to life. Kate Legge tells the story of how Sir Arthur’s grandson, William Streeton, walked in to the newly established Queenscliff Gallery & Workshop with some zinc and copperplate etchings in hand.
“Streeton’s early years in London were hard. He was homesick and broke, returning for a year to Australia in 1906 where he held an acclaimed exhibition and pocketed enough to propose on arriving back in London to Nora Clench, a world-class violinist. Although recognition improved during the two decades he spent overseas, it was a slog.
Around this time he began to etch. In a letter to his friend, scientist Baldwin Spencer, in January 1913 he told of an afternoon with Nora spent in the print room of the British Museum looking at Rembrandt’s etchings. “There’s quite a boom on now in good modern etchings and I’ve taken it up again,” he writes, describing his mix of hydrochloric acid, potash and water, producing a fine result. “Printing is such an important part of it, even if one can produce a beautiful drawing and etch it successfully – I’ll have a look out for a good second-hand press, spit on my hands and get to work, one’s hands get very inky… it’s an extravagant game and difficult to turn them into money, but it’s so very alluring.”
These exquisite and significant historical etchings hang in the main dining and living rooms at Clydesville for guests to enjoy. We highly recommend you visit Queenscliff Gallery & Workshop to hear the full story from Director, Theo Mantalvanos who proofed and printed the etchings.
Clydesville offers ‘Streeton Prints’ packages for you and your guests. Theo Mantalvanos is available to tell the Streeton Prints story during an early evening with whiskey and canapes.