Dawn, 1918

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Long was born in Goulburn, New South Wales, in August 1871, and studied at the Art Society of New South Wales in the early 1890s. Long was a precocious painter, producing his most famous images within a span of ten years, from 1894, Tranquil Waters, to 1904, The Music Lesson.

In his forties he travelled to London, and set about retraining himself, enrolling in three different art schools: Kennington in 1911, City Guild in 1912, and London Central in 1915 to study printmaking. He returned to Australia in 1921 to pursue a career in printmaking but only enjoyed modest success, the lyricism of his work at odds with Modernism, the movement about which he became increasingly embittered.

The strongest demand for Long’s work was from the Australian market and for the lyrical works he had produced in the 1890s and early 1900s. Whilst abroad, Long kept re-painting these decorative subjects to supply his Sydney dealer, Aldolp Albers. Dawn is one such watercolour.

Dawn possesses all the evocative qualities that make Long’s work so unique. The flat expanse with its vast skyscape and the towering gums evokes Australia, diminutive nude figures, humans or bush nymphs, lounge along the edge of an immense sheet of water. The sinuous tree trunks twist, in classic Art Nouveau patterning, vertiginously towards the sky. In a signature Longian image, the delicate, lace-like foliage of the gums is blurred and out-of-focus, the artist’s debt to Jean-Baptiste Corot (1796-1875).

Detail

Sidney Long (1871-1955)
Dawn, 1918
Watercolour on paper signed lower left : Sid Long
inscription: reverse has old label ‘317 a Dawn’
30.5 x 42.6 cm 70/39

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