Brighton Beach artwork by Henry Burn

Brighton Beach

Henry Burn, 1862

  • Born England c. 1807
  • Arrived Melbourne 1853
  • Died Melbourne 1884
  • Watercolour 31.1 x 47.3 cm
  • Collection: La Trobe, State Library of Victoria

About the painting

In this watercolour Burn has captured the landscape and clear antipodean light in a manner that anticipates the later ‘Heidelberg School’ en plein-air (out of doors) Impressionists.

Burn’s use of anecdotal detail is delightful; dogs on beaches were obviously a potential problem as early as the 1860s.

It is a mystery as to why there is a French flag flying though.

The gardens we see today came twenty years after Burn’s watercolour, being designed and planted from 1882 onwards.

About the artist

Little has been recorded about the artist Henry Burn, whose paintings and lithographs of early Melbourne and the neighbourhood now provide such valuable evidence of the local scene.

On 16 October 1852, Burn sailed from Liverpool arriving in Melbourne on 30 January 1853.

On 3 July 1860 he was married in St. Peter's Church, East Melbourne, to Susan Cane.

Although he exhibited with the Victorian Society of Fine Arts in 1857 and with the later Victorian Academy of Arts, he is not mentioned in the records of these societies and his work attracted no attention in the press.

However, many of his paintings provide a valuable visual record of much that has long since disappeared.

While they reveal interesting historical detail, they also reveal more clearly Burn's considerable abilities as an artist and his interest in capturing the changing effects of light and atmosphere.

Page last updated: 09 Dec 2010