Born at Mt. Duneed, Victoria, Streeton was a lithographer's apprentice while studying drawing at night under Folingsby at the National Gallery of Victoria School where he met Frederick McCubbin and Tom Roberts. The three became the avant garde of the day with their painting camps, including the Heidelberg venue, devoted to depicting romantic visions of nature and creating the first note of nationalism in Australian art.
Streeton's inability to master the human figure was his one great regret, but his skill in rendering distance and atmosphere gave emphasis to the unique indigenous beauty of the Australian landscape.
In Streeton's "blue and gold" paintings, his vigorous square brush strokes created mighty panoramas, awarding him the status of a national hero in Australia.
Streeton's earlier successes saw him move to England. Frustratingly, he achieved little recognition in the London art world during his years there, seeming to need the impetus of his native land to retain his remarkable fluency. After serving as a World War I artist, he returned to settle in Victoria in 1924, where he attempted to recapture, not always successfully, the creative stimulus of his Heidelberg days.
VENICE, BRIDE OF THE SEA, 1908, was painted during the spring and autumn of 1908 which Streeton spent in Italy. In this delicate work, he responds to the magical shimmering atmosphere of Venice. Streeton was always conscious of atmospheric changes, whether clear or misty, hot or cold, dry or humid. In painting this plein air view from a height, Streeton provides the viewer with his vision of the glitter and opalesence of the canals and marble buildings of this most beautiful of Italian cities.
THE BLUE MOUNTAINS, c.1920s, is one of the works Streeton painted on his return to Australia after a long period overseas. In this later work, he displays a stronger impasto of oil and a much broader use of the brush, making an interesting comparison with his earlier painting of Venice. Here, with these imposing but familiar blue and golden hues, Streeton shows his continuing interest in capturing the romantic vistas of open space and dreamlike distance of an Australian Arcady.