Streeton painting unveiled for first time in 130 years

Smith and Singer auction house chairman Geoffrey Smith poses next to Arthur Streeton’s Sunlight at the Camp 1894 painting that was unveiled in Melbourne. Picture: JAMES ROSS/AAP IMAGE.

By Liz Hobday, AAP

A masterpiece by known Olinda impressionist Arthur Streeton not seen by the public for 130 years has been unveiled.

The 1894 oil painting Sunlight at the Camp has gone on show in Melbourne ahead of auction in Sydney, where it’s expected to fetch up to $1.5 million.

The work is highly significant in both Streeton’s career and for the history of Australian art, chairman of Smith and Singer auction house Geoffrey Smith said on Wednesday.

“Very few works of this subject, date and scale remain in private ownership and its re-emergence for public auction represents almost the last opportunity to acquire a work of such beauty and stature,” he said.

The painting of Sydney Harbour was last exhibited in 1894 and was owned by art collector, the late Ruth Simon, for decades, with most of her collection going to the National Museum of Australia in Canberra.

Streeton was one of Australia’s most influential landscape painters and a leading member of the Heidelberg school with fellow artists Tom Roberts, Frederick McCubbin and Charles Conder.

Their work later became known as Australian impressionism, the nation’s first distinctive movement in painting.

The Yarra Ranges’ Streeton Ward has been named after this influential man and artist.

Sunlight at the Camp will go under the hammer as part of an auction of Australian art by Smith & Singer, formerly Sotheby’s Australia, in Sydney on April 17.

It’s expected to fetch a total of almost $13 million across 76 lots.