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Hans Heysen (1877-1968)
The Willow 1925
oil on canvas
50.8 x 60.9 cm
Gift of Howard Hinton 1932
Sponsored by Jeremy Smith in 2015 for the Adopt An ArtworkProgram


Born 1877, Hamburg, Germany. Died 1968, Hanhndorf, South Australia.

Born in Hamburg, Germany, Hans Heysen migrated to Adelaide with his family at the age of seven. He studied art after leaving school and by 1912 his success enabled him to purchase a property, called ‘The Cedars’, in the Adelaide Hills. It remained his home for the rest of his life. Heysen is best known for his remarkable images of the Australian bush, depictions of men and animals among massive gum trees against a background of stunning atmospheric effects. Heysen's work is a significant record of the activities of rural workers of the time together with the little known landscapes of inland Australia. He won the Wynne Prize for landscape painting nine times over nearly three decades. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Art Gallery of South Australia 1940-68 and was knighted in 1959.

This is one of eight works by Hans Heysen in the Hinton Collection. Significantly, Howard Hinton chose this work, 'The Willow', which is not Heysen's famed gum trees. The sweeping horizontal brushstrokes depict a large central willow tree. A group of cattle graze in the cool of the foreground paddock. The heat of the day can be seen in the hazy distant hills beyond.

It was an early donation of Hinton's, with an accession number of 20. It was on display in the Library of the Armidale Teachers' College. It was described by the 'Armidale Express' in 1948 as “magnificent...quite unlike his gumtree paintings, yet with the same majesty, and with the breadth and original perception of his Central Australian landscapes...certainly it is impossible fully to appreciate Heysen's work without seeing this painting.”