Malay Washerwomen on the Liesbeeck River. 2 Oils on Canvas – Rolando, Charles

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A pair of late nineteenth century oils of washerwomen on the Liesbeeck river in Newlands near the Vineyard. This is either the bridge at the bottom of Kildare road or the one near Paradise road. Two oils, one looking north and the other south from the bridge. This was a regular place for the Cape laundresses to ply their trade. One signed, the other unsigned. Three small tears repaired to one work and a larger single tear repaired to the other. Charles Rolando (1844-1893), artist, was born in Florence, Italy, son of an artist. He showed early ability in painting and studied in Florence. In 1870 he went to England and set up in Liverpool where his commissions included frescoes for a Roman Catholic church. At 30 he married Frances, sister of George Alfred John Webb (b.1861), a portraitist, who later lived in Adelaide and Melbourne; they had one daughter. In 1883 Rolando and his wife left for Australia but in Cape Town he gained first prize in an art competition with his landscape of Table Mountain. He stayed for two years, busy on commissions that resulted from his win. He arrived in Melbourne in mid-1885 bringing with him ‘warm recommendations on the part of Sir Hercules Robinson’ and several South African landscapes which drew immediate attention. In August he opened a studio in Grey Street, East Melbourne, and was soon painting assiduously, chiefly landscapes of the Watts River and Gippsland Lakes country. By January 1886 he had completed five oil paintings of the country around Fernshaw for the Colonial and Indian Exhibition in London and in April contributed three large studies of the Watts River to the Victorian Academy of Arts exhibition. He became a member of the Australian Artists’ Association in 1886. In 1887 Rolando exhibited in Melbourne and major country towns his collection of twenty-eight oils and ten water-colours as well as sketches. He auctioned them in September for £900, with many of the works being sold to local galleries. He then conducted a fashionable art school at studios in Enfield Street, St Kilda. He hung paintings at the Victorian Artists’ Society autumn exhibition in May 1888 and at the Melbourne Centennial International Exhibition in August. In his last years he collaborated with J. H. Scheltema (1861-1941), painting the landscape backgrounds to Scheltema’s cattle and horses. Critics complained that Rolando was inclined to ‘dash off landscapes with such haste as to result in … unequal work’. But at his best he showed a ‘rapid and facile touch, great dexterity of execution, a fine sense of colour, and a feeling for atmosphere and light, combined with unusual skill in discerning and discriminating with various forms and tints of Australian foliage’. Delicate in health and suffering for the last two years of his life from chronic bronchitis, Rolando was regarded as something of a recluse from the artistic society of Melbourne. Aged 49, he died of pneumonia on 8 July 1893 at his home Riseda, Jackson Street, St Kilda, and was buried in the Melbourne general cemetery. He was survived by his wife. (Australian Dictionary of Biography)

Date Published: circa 1885
Publication Place: Newlands
First Edition: Yes

Condition: good

Additional information

Weight 300000 g