Arthur Streeton was born on 1 September 1867 at Mount Duneed, near Geelong, where his father was a school teacher. The family moved to South Yarra in 1874. He teamed up with a group of aspiring artists who painted in the Heidelberg/Eaglemont area. The group included Tom Roberts, Louis Buvelot, Emanual Fox and Charles Condor and became known as the Heidelberg School.
In 1921, he purchased several acres of land at Olinda where he eventually built a house, painting studio and a caretaker's residence. "Longacres", as the Olinda property was called, was the base from which Streeton painted almost two hundred paintings in the Dandenong Ranges and Yarra Valley areas. "Longacres" still exists as a private residence still in the hands of the Streeton family and is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register as a significant structure.
Longacres. Photo from Victorian Heritage Register.
Golden Afternoon, Olinda", was painted around 1924 from the Falls Road area looking north, with the Great Divining Range in the distance. Finding the exact locations from where some of his paintings were painted is quite difficult today due to the changed landscape over the past 80 to 90 years.
In 1930-31 he painted "Silvan Dam" from a vantage point at Kalorama. An almost identical view that Streeton had, can be seen today from the lookout at Kalorama on the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road. An illustrated display board featuring "Silvan Dam" can be seen near the dam wall at the Silvan Reservoir. The original is in a private collection.
Arthur Streeton became Sir Arthur in 1937, having been knighted for his services to art. In 1938, he moved permanently to "Longacres" in Olinda until his death on 1 September 1943. He is buried in the Ferntree Gully Cemetery. The inscription on his grave simply reads, "Here lies Arthur Ernest Streeton Knight Australian Landscape Painter 1867 – 1943."
The Heidelberg School Artists Trail was launched in April 1997 to highlight the artists and their work. The trail is a non-continuous series of sites, many on walking tracks, where artists from the Heidelberg School painted. The trail loosely covers four areas, Heidelberg/Eaglemont, Eltham/Warrandyte, Yarra Glen/Healesville and the Dandenong Ranges. The feature of these sites, located as close as possible from where the paintings were made, is an illustrated display depicting the painting and brief details about the painting and the artist. On the rear of the display boards is a map showing the location of their painting sites. The trail features 14 different artists at 57 sites of which 16 feature Streeton.
While writing this article I visited some of the Streeton painting sites as many as three times, and each time a different scene presented itself with the ever-changing weather conditions, a phenomenon that makes the area popular today, with both artists and photographers alike. Sadly many of the display boards have been vandalised by graffiti.
The vandalised sign showing the Lilydale Lime Mine.