Australia’s history is rich with stories of settlers seeking refuge, fortune, and their own piece of “the land of promise”. Wool production remains one of Australia’s largest and most important forms of land use, attracting individuals from afar to reap the benefits. One such individual was the Honorary James Ford Strachan who was one of the first English settlers in Victoria arriving in what was then Van Diemen’s Land in 1832. Victorian locals may know the Strachan family name well, with a strong presence in the Western District through Strachan and Co. Limited, Aitken Walker Strachan, and the Geelong Club . JF Strachan was responsible for the erection of the first brick house in Melbourne, and the first stone house in Geelong.

Across the generations, the Strachan’s continue to hold a significant place within Victorian society and the state’s history. James Ford Strachan III and IV developed a passion for art, collecting paintings that depicted their bountiful landscape of the Western District.  There are numerous works from the Strachan family in the collections of the Geelong Club, the Melbourne Club, and the Barwon Heads Golf Club.  Leonard Joel is proud to showcase a selection of paintings that remained in the family collection in our upcoming Fine Art auction on Tuesday 3 September.

A significant discovery amongst the family’s heirlooms was a work by revered Irish artist, Paul Henry. Known as the “Father of Irish Landscape Painting” Henry has become one of the most sought after 20th century post-impressionist painters in Irish art history.

Turf Stacks in Connemara masterfully depicts the magnificent scenery of the Connemara wilderness. The remarkable colour harmony and creamy texture of paint are typical of the artist through the later 1920’s and 1930’s as both his mood and palette lightened. The delicacy and drama of the landscape are brought to life through the awe of the mountain range, the towering clouds somewhat ominous in construction, and the weaving curves of the bog. To some extent Henry used turf stacks to balance his works where other artists may use figures. This was a consolidation of his style which by now was fully mature.

OLIVIA FULLER / Head of Art