Sounds Of Silence

H J. Johnstone specialized in peaceful evening riverside scenes in the 19th century.  The painting below depicts the Murray River in South Australia in 1880.  Johnstone's strong background in photography is evident in the stillness and precision of the painting.  The subtle colour gradations is what impresses me as well as the stillness.  Apparently aboriginal campsites along river banks were becoming increasingly rare by the 1880's due to pastoralists  and government policy of herding them into settlements for "Christian education".

 Evening Shadows, Backwater of the Murray, South Australia 1880    121 cm x 180 cm

Evening Shadows, Backwater of the Murray, South Australia 1880    121 cm x 180 cm

"Evening Shadows" was the first acquisition by the Art Gallery of South Australia of a painting of an Australian subject.

 Twilight, River Goulburn Victoria 1878

Twilight, River Goulburn Victoria 1878

Strange as it may seem, these works were painted in London on commission.  Johnstone, who was born in Birmingham in 1835, came to Australia to  prospect on the Victorian goldfields in 1853.  He returned to the UK via California in 1876.

 The Billabong  1876

The Billabong  1876