This painting depicts the crowds and boating activities which were a regular part of the Henley on Yarra river rowing regatta in Melbourne in the early 1900s. Some of the rowing crews are heading up the river to the start line while marshalling boats work to ensure the recreational boats are situated behind the floating barricades on either side of the river.
I researched the details for the painting after hearing, in earlier years, from my parents, about how they would take their canoe into the regatta with cushions and wind up gramophone, as well as lanterns for the nights boating activities. The Regatta was held annually for over 40 years commencing in 1904 and provided a major competition for rowing clubs throughout Melbourne. Fashion was a key part of the regatta, and after the races the river would become a sea of different vessels, all dressed up for the occasion. Further details, including some historical film footage, on the event can be found at the Australian Henley Regatta website.
The painting was developed by reference to a large number of photos from the excellent State Library of Victoria’s photo collection. I also took a series of photos from the reference point to help with the light and colours, as well as consulting books on fashions of the time.
The key photographs referenced were:
Sear’s Studio photographer – Henley Melbourne 1910 – H42716
Albert Jones photographer – Henley before 1st World War – H2007.130/46 & 47
Paul Macintyre -Henley on the Yarra Regatta – H92.350/15
V.E Chamley – Photographer – Henley on Yarra, Melbourne – H32028/23 & 24
J D Meade postcard collection – Henley on Yarra, Melbourne – H33669/53