Hans Heysen

Hans Heysen (b.1877-1968) was born in Hamburg in Germany, and immigrated to Tartanya (Adelaide), South Australia with his family in 1884. He married and settled in Peramangk Country in Hahndorf – the landscape of which was the focus of his work for many years. Heysen was a master water-colourist who portrayed the South Australian landscape in all its different seasons. A conservationist at heart, his highly-detailed and light-driven works humanised the great gums of the Adelaide Hills – his highly skilled watercolour application, imbuing them with distinct qualities of endurance, resilience, and grandeur.1

Heysen’s Spring in the bush, Hahndorf depicts a sunlit bushland filled with gum trees that have been painted in delicate watercolour pinks and blues that denote their strength, delicacy and beauty. The foreground hosts a monumental gum portrayed in all its specificity – its trunk accompanied by a group of cattle resting underneath the shade its branches have cast. A light impression of a fence line appears behind the trees, establishing a border between the dense bushland in the distance, and the grassland in the foreground which has almost been stripped bare. Heysen was a devoted conservationist who em-ployed his artistic practice to advocate for the preservation of the unique environment of his beloved Ad-elaide Hills2.

  1. National Gallery of Australia, “Hans Heysen, A Grand Vision: Strong Forms and Bold Light,” accessed December 17, 2020, https://nga.gov.au/exhibition/
  2. Peter Heysen, “Sir Hans Heysen OBE,” accessed January 30, 2021, https://adelaidia.history.sa.gov.au/people/sirhans-heysen-obe.