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South Head, Port Jackson



Arthur Streeton

Australia, England, Australia

08 Apr 1867 - 01 Sep 1943


'South Head, Port Jackson' offers the experience of the harbour from the water, as so many boating or ferry-travelling Sydney-siders know it. It is a watercolour of great vigour and verisimilitude; a poetic gem in blue and yellow, very like Streeton’s much admired small Sydney Harbour oil panels of the 1890s such as 'Musgrave Street Wharf' 1893 (Scheumack collection).

Streeton has not only captured the rhythmical roll of the harbour waters near the mouth of the harbour, but also the changing effects of passing weather – sunlight on the dry grassy slope of the headland, about to be extinguished by rain clouds - and the very particular shape of South Head just before the harbour waters meet the open sea. A breaking wave and the steamer in the middle distance contribute to the immediacy of the work. Featured are the historic Macquarie Lighthouse (Australia’s first) and the Hornby Light.

Streeton painted this watercolour in England, basing it on a sketchy panoramic watercolour he made of the subject in 1896, prior to leaving for England from Sydney on the French ship SS Polynesia on 27 January 1897, together with whatever impressions he gained on board as it passed South Head.


Other Titles

South Head

South Head, Sydney

Place where the work was made




Media category


Materials used

pencil, watercolour on ivory wove paper


26.0 x 49.7 cm sheet; 44.5 x 67.3 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.l., brush and watercolour "Arthur STREETOn.’/ 1898.".


Purchased with funds provided by the Australian Collection Benefactors' Program and David George Wilson Bequest Fund 2012


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Arthur Streeton

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 3 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 5 publications


Anthony Hordern & Sons, Ltd., Catalogue of an exhibition of the early work of Arthur Streeton, Tom Roberts and others (1925), 'Arthur Streeton', Sydney, 1925. 11; priced 40 guineas; not paginated

Bridget McDonnell, Early Australian watercolours and drawings, catalogue entry, Melbourne, 1989, 14, 15 (colour illus.). cat. no. 11

Sotheby's Australia (Compilator), Sotheby’s: fine Australian books, paintings and drawings, Sydney, 1985, (colour illus.). titled 'South Head, Sydney'; lot. 21; not paginated

Arthur Streeton, The Arthur Streeton catalogue, ‘The catalogue’, pg. 113-141, Melbourne, 1935, 118. titled 'South Head'; cat. no. 185 (dated incorrectly as 1896); noted as ‘In possession of Anthony Hordern Ltd’

Daniel Thomas, Sydney Harbour, Sydney, 1963. 27; not paginated