McCubbin's Other Half
National Gallery of Victoria conservators are restoring Melbourne 1888 by Frederick McCubbin, but half of it is missing and they want your help to find it.
In a quite remarkeable story, the NGV acquired its half as a gift from the artist's son, Hugh McCubbin, in 1960. It's not known why (or by whom) it was cut in half, but the theories include that the other half was damaged, others suggest it was for size or artistic reasons.
It's an insight into what Melbourne looked like 120 years ago, and Ms Collins, who has been restoring the left side for the past six months, says it is artistically important and ambitious.
This left side of the oil on canvas depicts a prosperous, busy Melbourne, looking north-east from the south bank of the Yarra, with the river and ships in the foreground. This was well before the Flinders Street Station building existed, the painting depicts the Yarra's north bank crowded with warehouses, and the cityscape includes Melbourne Town Hall, and the Scots' and St Michael's church spires.
A sketch by the artist Arthur Streeton for the catalogue of an 1888 Victorian Artists Society exhibition, provides a rare reproduction and may hold a clue to the whereabouts of the missing side.
The sketch held by the State Library of Victoria and signed by Streeton's nickname, Smike, reveals the right half of the painting as depicting the then half-finished St Paul's Cathedral (without its spire) in the background, and a steamship on the river and passenger dock in the foreground.
If you know where the other half lives, contact the NGV.
❊ Web Links ❊
→ McCubbin's Other Half
→ Gallery appeals to public in hunt for McCubbin's other half | theage.com.au
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