Commissioned by the proprietors of the Athenaeum Club, Collins Street, Melbourne; Joshua McClelland Print Room, Melbourne, 30 July 1970; Private collection, Melbourne and thence by descent to Dr. Anthony Brady, Melbourne by whom sold, Mossgreen, Melbourne, 24 June 2014, lot 21, and purchased by the present owner.
When this picture was rediscovered in 2014 it was stated that it had been painted for the proprietor of the Athenaeum Club in Melbourne and that Grimshaw had visited Australia in 1890 or 1891, a period during which little is known of Grimshaw's life. No evidence has been found to prove conclusively that Grimshaw went to Australia. The painting depicts Swanston Street in Melbourne, a wide and busy thoroughfare lit with gas-lamps and the glow from shop windows. On the right is a two-storey building bearing the name ‘Leviathan’ which was the Leviathan Clothing Store, one of Melbourne’s best-known department stores. On the left is the canopy of the Royal Mail Hotel, built in 1848 at the south-east corner of Bourke and Swanston streets; it was demolished in 1960. The advertisement on the side of the wall on the right was for the Artistic Stationary Company where small loan exhibitions of paintings were held in the 1880s. Grimshaw suggested the modernity of the city with the fashionable attire of the elegant pedestrians thronging the streets and with details such as the lines of electricity supply running down the streets on overhead wires. He conveyed the muddy texture of the wet dust-road by mixing a small amount of grit with his paint before applying it is thin layers over the canvas.
This picture is unlined and in very good condition. The canvas is a little slack and would benefit from being tightened. There are localised areas of very fine craquelure on the buildings but this is only visible upon very close inspection.
UNDER ULTRAVIOLET LIGHT
There is scattered flecked retouching across the picture which appears to have been made to infill craquelure.
The picture is contained in a moulded gilt frame. "In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."