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Australian art

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The hill of the creeping shadow



Hans Heysen

Germany, Australia, France

08 Oct 1877 - 02 Jul 1968


Hans Heysen first visited the Flinders Ranges in South Australia in 1926 and made numerous subsequent visits, producing a large number of drawings, watercolours and paintings of the area. Drawn to the dry, ancient land, so different to the bush and beachscapes and lyrical pastoral scenes usually depicted by Australian landscape artists at the time, Heysen was one of the first non-Aboriginal artists to create and exhibit a significant body of works of the Australian desert interior. His well-promoted images of the outback with its intense red and ochre colours and austere geological formations helped to introduce new meanings of the Australian landscape to the public, most of whom had never seen the country’s interior.

'It was in the Flinders Ranges that I was made curiously conscious of a very old land where the primitive forces of Nature were constantly evident. The barren hillsides, incised and torn by Nature’s forces, hold a peculiar attraction… It is a land for the draughtsman, and yet at times, it is also magnificently rich and varied in depths of colour and its range of colour schemes.'
Hans Heysen 1932

This work was a finalist in the 1929 Wynne Prize and was acquired by the Gallery in 1929.

From the Gallery Shop


Other Title

The Hill of the Creeping Shadow, Flinders Ranges



Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


66.0 x 92.0 cm stretcher; 88.8 x 114.3 x 8.2 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. corner, brown oil "HANS HEYSEN/ 1929".


Purchased 1929


Not on display

Accession number


Wynne Prize

- 1929

Artist information

Hans Heysen

Works in the collection


Shown in 10 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 15 publications


Rebecca Andrews, Hans Heysen, 'The Flinders Ranges: 'A deviation in Australian landscape painting'', pg. 88-115, Adelaide, 2008, 89 (colour illus.), 133 (colour illus.).

Alisa Bunbury, Arid Arcadia: Art of the Flinders Ranges, 'The bones of nature laid bare': Heysen's revelation', pg. 66-85, Adelaide, 2002, 77 (colour illus.), 78, 187 (illus.).

Lou Klepac, Parallel visions: works from the Australian collection, 'Hans Heysen / Elioth Gruner / Horace Trennery', pg. 32-47, Sydney, 2002, 143.

Hendrik Kolenberg, Look, ‘Heysen to Heysen: letters across a generation’, pg. 33-36, Sydney, Mar 2012, 34 (colour illus.), 35.

Lionel Lindsay, 150 years of Australian art, Sydney, 1938. 304 [Gallery No. 3]

Hal Missingham, A retrospective exhibition of Australian painting, Sydney, 1953. 82

Barry Pearce, Two hundred years of Australian painting: nature, people and art in the southern continent, 'Introduction', pg.17-23 (in Japanese), Tokyo, 1992, 22, 159 (colour illus.), 183. 102

Barry Pearce, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Earth, sky and paint', pg. 149-150, Sydney, 2000, 153 (colour illus.), 300.

Barry Pearce, A century of Australian landscape: mood and moment, Sydney, 1983, 16, 71 (colour illus.). 49

Ursula Prunster, Seeing is believing: the art in photography, 'Landscape & photography', Sydney, 1985. 20; not paginated

Geoffrey Smith, Sidney Nolan: desert & drought, 'Introduction', pg. 8-11, Melbourne, 2003, 10 (colour illus.).

Society of Artists, Society of Artists Annual Exhibition (1929), Sydney, 1929. 100; titled 'The Hill of the Creeping Shadow, Flinders Ranges'; priced 250 guineas.

The Adelaide Festival of Arts 1962: Special exhibitions at the National Gallery of South Australia, 'Australian Painting: Colonial, Impressionist, Contemporary', Adelaide, 1962. not paginated, 72

Editor Unknown (Editor), The Mercury, 'Loan pictures exhibition: three artists: Hans Heysen', pg. 6, Hobart, 19 Aug 1935, 6.

Editor Unknown (Editor), The Sydney morning herald, 'Society of Artists' exhibition at the Education Department', pg. 16, Sydney, 06 Sep 1929, 16 (illus).