THE National Gallery of Australia has acquired Hans Heysen’s Morning light (1913), through the bequest of Ruth Graham Robertson.
Ms Robertson’s bequest was made to assist the development of the national art collection, specifically Australian art, through acquisitions of works by important late 19th and early 20th century Australian artists such as Hans Heysen, Arthur Streeton, Sydney Long and James W.R Linton.
The other acquisitions from the bequest to date include Hans Heysen’s “Arkaba country” (1929 -34) and “A winter’s day on the Swan” (c. 1910) oil painting by WA artist James W.R Linton.
“We are indebted to Ms Robertson for the wonderful legacy of almost $3 million that she has left the National Gallery of Australia,” director Ron Radford said.
“Her bequest has already enabled us to make significant acquisitions such as Heysen’s ‘Morning light’ and will continue to do so in the future.
“It is extraordinary that the National Gallery of Australia held no major iconic gum tree oil painting by Heysen from the Federation period prior to the acquisition of this work.
“Moreover, it is hard to believe given the popularity and familiarity of Heysen’s work, that Heysen in fact painted only a handful of major oils (seven in all) on the subject of the gum during the Federation period (1900-1914).”
Ruth Graham Robertson, born at Lithgow NSW in 1923, demonstrated a love of the arts in their many forms, from a very early age. This love was fostered by her maternal grandfather Robert Dennis, who was among the last of the Lithographic artists and illuminators trained at the Technical College in Ultimo.
“She never lost her appreciation of the works of Australian landscape artists, such as Hans Heysen, and would often remark on the beauty of a tree and how it would look painted,” her nephew Rob Meller said,
“She particularly wanted to honour the memory and legacy of her parents and her maternal grandparents in her will and for this reason chose to leave a bequest to the Gallery that would enable important Australian paintings such as these works to be acquired by the Gallery.”