Hans Heysen

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Biographical Details:
Hans Heysen was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1877 and migrated to Adelaide, South Australia with his family at the age of six. As a young man in new surroundings, Heysen showed an interest in art early on. He dropped out of school at 14 to work as a hardware merchant and study at art school in the evenings.

Drawing and design became vital to Heysen's art and ideology. Through his accomplishments as a draughtsman, Heysen developed a great control of line and shape and this is evident in his paintings, but also in his studies drawn in pencil, pen, chalk and charcoal.

Heysen was very fortunate with patrons and at only the beginning of his career as an artist, four prominent Adelaide businessmen were so impressed by his enthusiasm that they agreed to sponsor his studies in Europe, in lieu of the right to sell whatever he painted abroad. Later he sold art works to the State galleries in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide and carried out commissions for prominent patrons such as Dame Nellie Melba and Victoria's governor.

After hosting his second solo exhibition in Melbourne in 1912, Heysen was able to afford to purchase a property 'The Cedars', near Hahndorf in the Adelaide hills. He lived there for the rest of his life recording the essence of the landscape and the labours of the German farmers in the fields, until his death in 1968. The property was the inspiration for many of Heysenís famous subjects, gigantic gums, timber hauling and toilers, and is open to the public to this day.

Heysen's artwork is highly traditional. Whilst he painted Australian subjects such as the Hahndorf pastorals, the Flinders Ranges and his iconic gums, they are strongly influenced European models of dark and light compositional elements. His animal and bird studies feature the cattle, sheep, pigs and ducks of his own farmyard, rather than Australian mammals. However, Heysen helped define a national identity for Australia through his original approach to the Australian landscape, light and rural life.

Best known for his watercolours of the bush, Heysen won the prestigious Wynne Prize for landscape painting an astonishing nine times. The first win was in 1904 with the famous large oil, Mystic Morn which now belongs to the Art Gallery of South Australia. Heysen produced an enormous body of work and his pictures have been enthusiastically collected across the country since the beginning of the twentieth century. Knighted in 1959, Sir Hans Heysen holds a distinctive place as one of the nation's most honourable artists of the Federation era.

Hans Heysen (1877-1968) is currently being honoured by a major retrospective of his work at the Art Gallery of South Australia. This exhibition features more than one hundred works created over the artist's seventy year career.

Savill Galleries has over the years handled numerous works by Hans Heysen. Please view the works we currently have in stock and email us or telephone us for prices -
telephone + +61 2 9327 8311.

Hans Heysen - retrospective exhibition dates

Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery 23 April - 21 June 2009

Ballarat Fine Art Gallery 11 July - 2 October 2009

Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery 27 November 2009 - 14 February 2010

National Gallery of Australia 30 April - 4 July 2010

Queensland Art Gallery 31 July - 24 October 2010

Newcastle Region Art Gallery 19 November 2010 - 30 January 2011


The Willow Tree

Near Hahndorf

Zinnias and Plums 1925

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