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Spring frost



Elioth Gruner

New Zealand, Australia

16 Dec 1882 - 17 Oct 1939


Awarded the Wynne Prize in 1919 and painted the same year as Roland Wakelin's and Roy de Maistre's experiments in colour harmony, 'Spring frost' is one of Elioth Gruner's most critically acclaimed achievements. With its impeccable sense of light and tone, and its vigorous foreground brushwork, 'Spring frost' is a tour de force, and perhaps the most loved Australian landscape painting in the Gallery.

Elioth Gruner painted 'Spring frost' according to 19th-century plein-air conventions, but the work also demonstrates a contemporary succinctness of form. To complete the painting - one of his largest compositions - en plein air, Gruner built a structure to protect the canvas from the weather, and wrapped his legs with chaff bags to avoid frostbite. Although painted largely outdoors at Emu Plains, its large size and somewhat theatrical quality make it likely that Gruner completed parts of it later, in his city studio.

This work was acquired by the Gallery in 1939.


From the Gallery Shop


Place where the work was made

Emu Plains Sydney New South Wales Australia



Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


131.0 x 178.7 cm stretcher; 157.5 x 206.7 x 14.0 cm frame + 25mm back build-up

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r., black oil "E GRUNER/ 1919".


Gift of F G White 1939

Accession number


Wynne Prize

Winner - 1919

Artist information

Elioth Gruner

Artist profile

Works in the collection



Where the work was made
Emu Plains

Shown in 9 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 52 publications


Renée Free. European Collection 1., Art Gallery of New South Wales collection series, 'Pierre Bonnard: Self-portrait in the dressing-room mirror', Sydney, 1981, (illus.).

Herbert Badham, A gallery of Australian art, 'Introduction', pg. v-vii., Sydney, 1954, xii, xv, (colour illus.). plate no. 28

Geoffrey Batchen, Art Network, 'Gruner in retrospect', pg.8-11, Artarmon, Spring 1983, 8 (colour illus.).

Michaela Boland., Weekend Australian, 'Master cards', pg. 9, Sydney, 07 Sep 2013, 9.

Shane Breynard, Elioth Gruner: the texture of light, 'Director's foreword', pg. 7-8, Canberra, 2014, 7, 29, 33 (colour illus.), 34, 89, 95, 100.

Natasha Bullock, Look, 'Shedding Light, photographs by the great Harold Cazneaux are seen in a new light alongside paintings of the time', pg.13, Melbourne, Aug 2001, 13.

Helen Campbell, Look, 'Drysdale textile design... and other surprising 'rediscoveries'', pg. 30, Sydney, Aug 2014, 30.

a Special Correspondent, Argus, 'Sydney day by day', pg. 6, Melbourne, 09 Oct 1919, 6.

Bob Evans, Good Weekend, 'The pictures our galleries don't show', pg. 34-40, Ultimo, 25 Jun 1988, 39. Sydney Morning Herald supplement

Sasha Grishin, Australian art: a history, 'Art of federation', pg. 174-185, Carlton, 2013, 183 (colour illus.), 548, 561. plate no. 18.6

Bruce James, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Milking works for a moment in the sun', pg. 13, Sydney, 03 Apr 2002, 13 (illus.). Review of 'Parallel Visions' exhibition

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 135 (colour illus.).

Judy Jones, The Arms Chronicle, 'Elioth Gruner and the Innes family of Emu Plains', pg. 5-6, Penrith, Aug 2013, 6. part 1

Judy Jones, The Arms Chronicle, 'Elioth Gruner and the Innes family of Emu Plains', pg. 5-6, Penrith, Sep 2013, 5 (colour illus.), 6. part 2

Lou Klepac, Parallel visions: works from the Australian collection, 'Hans Heysen / Elioth Gruner / Horace Trennery', pg. 32-47, Sydney, 2002, 13 (colour illus., detail), 40, 41 (colour illus.), 143, 147.

J. S. MacDonald., Australasian post, 'Gruner exhibition', Melbourne, 21 Jan 1933, unknown. Exhibition review

Alicia Parlby, Look, 'Gruner lives! Old works a hit with young viewers', pg. 12, Sydney, Dec 2003-Jan 2004, 12.

Barry Pearce, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian', pg. 13-35, Sydney, 1988, 24 (illus.).

Barry Pearce, The Wynne prize: an Australian landscape tradition, ‘Introduction’, pg. 6-9, Sydney, 1986, 9, 17 (colour illus.), 25.

Ursula Prunster, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Home and abroad', pg. 73-74, Sydney, 2000, 74, 101 (colour illus.), 300.

Robin Robertson., The Weekend Australian financial review, 'ABN Amro teaches the art of "quiet" sponsorship', Sydney, 05 Aug 2000-06 Aug 2000, page unknown (colour illus.).

Leanne Santoro, Look, 'Into the light', Sydney, Jan 2017-Feb 2017, 28-29 (colour illus.). 'Anatomy of an artwork' feature

Bernard Smith, 100 years of Australian painting, 'Foreword', pg. 2-4, Sydney, 1948, 8. 34

Daniel Thomas, Art and Australia, 'Australian collection', pg. 52-62, Sydney, Jul 1972, 55 (colour illus.).

Beatrice Tildesley, Sydney mail, 'The Gruner exhibition at the National Art Gallery', pg. 17, Sydney, 28 Dec 1932, 17. Exhibition review.

Wayne Tunnicliffe and Deborah Edwards, Look, ‘New Australia’, pg. 24-27, Sydney, May 2012, 24 (colour illus.), 26.

A century of Australian landscape: mood and moment, Sydney, 1983, 15, 62, 63 (colour illus.). 42

In our own image: the story of Australian art, Sydney, 1995, 76 (colour illus.).

Elioth Gruner 1882-1939, Sydney, 1983, 15 (colour illus.), , 19, 20, 39. 26

100 masterpieces of Australian painting, Adelaide, 1973, 128, 129 (colour illus.). plate no. 61

Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Sydney, 1972, 96 (colour illus.).

The Art Gallery of New South Wales Bulletin, 'Close-Ups of the Collection', pg. 35, Sydney, May 1996-Jul 1996, 35 (colour illus.).

Look, Heidelberg, May 1996, 3 (colour illus.).

Loan exhibition of the works of Elioth Gruner, Sydney, 1932. 83; Collection F.G. White Esq.

The Sydney morning herald, 'Elioth Gruner', pg. 14, Sydney, 16 Dec 1922, 14.

National life and landscape - Australian painting 1900-1940, 'Art versus Nature', pg. 38-51, Sydney, 1990, 47. plate no. 53

The Sydney morning herald, 'Wynne art prize: 1919 award to Mr Gruner', pg. 7, Sydney, 19 Aug 1920, 7.

The Queenslander, 'Literature: Society of Artists' exhibition', pg. 3, Brisbane, 24 Jul 1920, 3.

The Sydney morning herald, 'The Wynne art prize, 1919', pg. 5, Sydney, 01 Dec 1919, 5.

Wynne centenary 1897-1997: a selection of past winners from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 1997, (colour illus.).

Daily telegraph, Sydney, 03 Oct 1919.

The Sydney morning herald, 'Society of Artists: a strong Spring show', pg. 6, Sydney, 03 Oct 1919, 6.

Evening news, Sydney, 02 Oct 1919.

Art & Mind, Melbourne, 1998, 44 (colour illus.). plate no. 3.18

Seeking the Centre, 'Seeing red: from topography to imagery', pg. 161-183, Cambridge, 1998, 162.

Patrick White, painter, manqué: paintings, painters and their influence on his writing, 'Strangers in the Motherland', pg. 5-19, Carlton, 2002, 8, 35.

In our own image: the story of Australian art, Sydney, 2002, 60 (colour illus.).

Look, 'Great Uncle Jim', pg. 10, Sydney, Dec 2007-Jan 2008, 10 (colour illus.).

The art of Elioth Gruner, Sydney, [1922], (colour illus.). plate no. VII; Collection: F.G. White, Esq.; not paginated

AGNSW Collections, 'From Colonialism to late Modernism', pg. 7-106, Sydney, 1994, 28 (colour illus.).

Roy and Matilda - The Golden Locket, Canterbury, 1994, (colour illus.).

Portrait of a Gallery, 'Australian Art in the Old Courts', pg. 24-37, Sydney, 1984, 36, 37 (colour illus.).