By the Sea artwork by John Mather

By the Sea

John Mather, 1886

  • Born Scotland 1848
  • Arrived Australia 1878
  • Died Melbourne 1916
  • Oil on canvas 40.8 x 76.2 cm
  • Collection: Ballarat Fine Art Gallery. Gift of James Oddie, 1886

About the painting

This work by John Mather is considered more formal than others from the ‘Heidelberg School’ artists.

In 1886 the railway line only went as far as Brighton – a likely explanation for the sparsely populated and isolated looking beachscape.

This changed dramatically with the opening of the ‘scrubby express’, the railway line terminating at Picnic Point.

The new shuttle service opened in September 1887 and, within three months, was carrying over 133,000 passengers.

The Sandringham station became the busiest of the beachside stations, and the Bayside area one of the most popular holiday destinations in the state.

About the artist

John Mather was well-known as an etcher and a popular landscapist; he had a significant following as a teacher of etching.

On one occasion he lectured eighty people at the artists’ camp at Eaglemont.

Mather left his native Scotland before the en plein-air (out of doors) movement took hold in the 1880s, but it is likely he was exposed to the ideas of the movement by his friend John Ford Paterson.

Arthur Streeton recalled in his later years painting en plein-air with the two Scotsmen – Mather and Paterson.

Page last updated: 15 Dec 2010