Born in Melbourne, Mcinnes attended the National Gallery of Victoria School, winning several student prizes. He also won the Archibald Prize on seven occasions, and was commissioned to paint portraits of many leading public figures. As well as painting many local scenes around Melbourne, Mcinnes also completed a number of landscapes during his overseas travels. In 1927 he was commissioned, with Septimus Power, to paint the opening of the Federal Parliament at Canberra by His Royal Highness the Duke of York (later King George VI). His long association with the National Gallery of Victoria included appointments as teacher of drawing from 1917 to 1934, head of the painting and drawing schools from 1934 to 1939, and Acting Director of the Gallery from 1935 to 1936.
Although Mcinnes used dark tones in his portraits, the brighter colours of his landscapes show him painting in the Australian Impressionist manner made popular by Streeton.
PLOUGHING THE FIELDS, 1919, was painted when the artist was 30 years of age. The river valley and picturesque lucerne farm near his home at Alphington were favourite spots for him and, like Frederick McCubbin, he chose to paint close to where he lived. This charming landscape, with its horizontal composition, gives the viewer a feeling of space and serenity, although the painting is only small.
Dividing the canvas almost equally between land and sky, Mcinnes uses broad, square brush strokes - made popular by Streeton (q. v.) and Roberts - to emphasize the wafting movements of the clouds, contrasted with the horizontal alternating light and dark shades of the field. The curves of the trees and clouds are repeated in the rounded figures of the horses. Poetic feeling and sensitivity permeate this communion of man, animal and nature in a sunlit world.