Frederick McCubbin
born Australia, 1855

Lost 1886
Oil on canvas
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 1940

In Lost McCubbin introduces the narrative of the lost child in the bush, positing the landscape as a place of beauty and potential danger. This painting is thought to have been inspired by the disappearance of twelve-year-old Clara Crosbie in May 1885, who was lost in bushland in the Yarra Valley for three weeks. She took shelter in the hollow of a tree, and her cries of ‘Cooee’ attracted the attention of two bushmen. In addition to newspaper coverage of her plight, her story was also shared when she was placed on public display at Maximilian Kreitmayer’s waxworks on Bourke Street, Melbourne, from August to November 1885, after a brief period of convalescence.

The model for this painting is thought to be McCubbin’s younger sister Mary Anne, also known as Dolly.