At the falling of the year


Frederick McCubbin
born Australia, 1855

At the falling of the year  1886
Oil on canvas
National Gallery of Victoria, Australia
Purchased with the assistance of Terry and Christine Campbell, 2008

In this work, McCubbin focuses in on the immediate environs, concentrating our attention on a small pocket of dense, scrubby bush. So closely are we drawn into the bush setting, that two magpies come into view, flying between the slender trunks of the Gums. The extension of the trees’ limbs beyond the canvas reinforces their grand scale and suggests the envelopment of the artist within the landscape.

The title is drawn from ‘A song of Autumn’, a poem by Adam Lindsay Gordon, published in 1870:  

Where shall we go for our garlands glad
At the falling of the year,
When the burnt-up banks are yellow and sad,
When the boughs are yellow and sere?
Where are the old ones that once we had,
And when are the new ones near?
What shall we do for our garlands glad
At the falling of the year?