Panoramic view of Sydney Harbour and the city skyline1894

by Arthur Streeton

Arthur Streeton’s high-toned, rapidly sketched paintings were startlingly innovative for conservative Sydney in the 1890s. His was an avant-garde vision, which had seemingly abandoned the conventions of 19th century painting.

Standing near Curraghbeena Park in Mosman, Streeton looks across Cremorne Point to Garden Island on the left, the Royal Botanic Garden in the centre, and Circular Quay to the right.

The painting was commissioned in 1894 by Emily Bowden-Smith for her husband, Admiral Bowden-Smith, Commander of the Australian Fleet, as a memento of their time in Sydney. She displayed it at a soiree she gave at Admiralty House on 7 December 1894 — the Telegraph reported the next day that this was ‘a living, speaking picture, full of that fire which is so peculiarly Australian …’