Hans Heysen Lou Klepac 2016

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Hans Heysen is one of the giants of Australian art who transformed the way we see the Australian landscape during the first two decades of Federation. Back from four years of study in Europe at the end of 1903, he achieved an astronomical success within twelve months of his return. Two major works were acquired by State Galleries andhewas awarded the Wynne Prize, the first of nine times. In December 1904 he married Sallie Bartels who became his perfect partner. They moved to Hahndorf in 1908 and in 1912 acquired The Cedars, a house and property whichproved to be the ideal home for Heysen the painter and his large family. 

Heysen’s art is the result of great technical skill and his passion and understanding of the Australian landscape. What to others was ‘the bush’, for Heysen it was the miraculous and mystical essence of nature. He was inspired by light and the landscape of Hahndorf and the Adelaide Hills, which he transformed into an Arcadian vision that can still haunt us with its sense of timeless beauty. Not only did he produce a range of masterpieces such as Red Gold (1913); Droving into the Light (1921) and The Three Gums (1921), but he also ventured into the Flinders Ranges in 1926, where he discovered a primordial landscape. Some of his finest works are the result of his many visits to the interior of the continent, which captured his imagination to the end of his life. 

The author, Lou Klepac, has had a long association with Hans Heysen. When he became Curator of Paintings at the Art Gallery of South Australia in 1966, Hans Heysen was still on the Art Gallery Board of Trustees. He invited Klepac to The Cedars and showed him through the studio. He has seen all the major exhibitions devoted to Heysen since 1966 and in 1988 he organised a comprehensive exhibition, ‘Hans Heysen Drawings and Watercolours’ for the S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney.

The book has 149 plates, with numerous illustrations and photographs, and with special sections devoted to major paintings. It includes detailed biographical notes on the artist as well as informative quotes from the artist’s letters.


Hardcover  |  216 pages | 290 x 280 mm  | ISBN 9780947349103 | RRP $120 | Distributor Peribo


from a customer


I am writing to express my truly heartfelt gratitude to you for producing your wonderful (2016) book on Hans Heysen. Like so many Australians I have long held a high regard for Heysen, however, you have greatly expanded my appreciation and opened my eyes so much to the art and character of Heysen. Thank you immensely. Although I always held great admiration for Heyson I was unaware of the full scope of his work; in particular his masterful charcoal drawings and I did not appreciate the extent of his superb watercolours… . I am particularly thankful to your analysis and presentation in opening my eyes fully to the importance and influence Heysen felt for the old masters.... I could see that Venetian light in Heyson’s work and the old masters have shown in through his paintings, his methods of working and his fundamental importance he gave to drawing. It is as if we had an old master, alive and present in Australia. 

Sadly, like so many of the great artists born in the nineteenth century and especially because he lived so long, he had to watch what Ives Gammell called the ‘twilight of painting’ – the destruction and denigration of all they held sacred in art. Arguably the greatest loss for the visual language of those masters was the abandonment of drawing as the fundamental foundation of painting. So wonderful to see Heysen’s insistence on and mastery of draughtsmanship.