Little is known about Hugh Finlay, other than he was a member of the Art Society of New South Wales and exhibited in its first exhibition at the Garden Palace in Sydney in 1880. Fifty watercolours by Finlay, mainly of Australian subjects, were shown in London's Haymarket at Thomas McLean's Gallery in the 1880s. According to the catalogue, Finlay spent six years in Australia, travelling in New South Wales and Victoria. The watercolours have transcriptions from old labels written on their versos, noting the subject of each as Yarra Flats from Christmas Hill, Victoria. These transcriptions also state that the Yarra Flats was in Evelyn County or Burgoyne, 31 miles (50km) east of Melbourne on the Yarra Yarra River and that in 1865 Christmas Hill Station was occupied by J Wilson and comprised 16,000 acres (6475 hectares) with grazing for 960 head of cattle. Eugene von Guérard's 'Lilydale from the Christmas Hills' is from a similar vantage point as this watercolour.
excerpt from Hendrik Kolenberg, Anne Ryan and Patricia James, '19th century Australian watercolours, drawings & pastels in the Gallery's collection', Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2005
Yarra flats from Christmas Hill, Victoria, (afternoon light)
watercolour, white gouache
32.6 x 54.9 cm sheet
Signature & date
Signed l.r. corner, brown watercolour "H. Finlay". Not dated.
Not on display
Shown in 4 exhibitions
Fifty watercolour drawings of Australian scenery &c., McLean's Gallery, London, circa 1886 -
Christie's South Kensington: Paintings, drawings, bronzes, weapons and books of American, Australian, Canadian, South African and Eastern interest, Christie, Manson and Woods, London, 27 Jun 1968–02 Jul 1968
Nineteenth century Australian watercolours from the collection (1991), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 13 Apr 1991–07 Jul 1991
19th century Australian watercolours, drawings & pastels, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 06 Apr 2005–24 Jul 2005
Referenced in 3 publications
Hendrik Kolenberg, Look, 'Australian images from the past: whether rarely seen or familiar, these works move and delight us', pg. 24-27, Sydney, Apr 2005, 27.
Hendrik Kolenberg, 19th century Australian watercolours, drawing and pastels from the Gallery's collection, 'Introduction', pg. 6-16, Sydney, 2005, 10, 67 (colour illus.).
Nineteenth century Australian watercolours from the collection, Sydney, 1991. not paginated, cat.no. 19