Receding tide, near Coolum, Queensland

Born Ballarat, Victoria, Australia 1897, died Millmerran, Queensland 1960


Kenneth MacQueen was a highly regarded watercolourist, whose paintings reflected his sensitivity and experience of the land and the coast that he loved to visit. From 1915–18 he served with the AIF in France, and studied drawing by correspondence. Following the end of the war in 1918, he studied at the Slade and Westminster schools of art in London and exhibited with the Royal Academy and the New English Art Club, London.

Returning to Australia in 1919 he settled in Queensland, purchasing a farm at Millmerran on the Darling Downs. For the next forty years he painted the surrounding country in breaks between farm work, making sketches of the clouds and rounded hills, which he would later paint in his studio.

His often dramatic compositions are characterised by lofty blue skies, soaring clouds, clear light and simplified forms, reflecting the cycles of nature by which he worked and lived. This is particularly evident in Receding tide, near Coolum, Queensland where the snaking outline of the clouds echoes the sea-foam lapping at the coast. MacQueen exhibited regularly from 1922 to 1957 in Sydney and Brisbane and was included in the exhibition A Group of Modern Painters, Grosvenor Galleries, Sydney (1926) alongside leading modernists Margaret Preston, Grace Cossington Smith and Roy de Maistre. He was the subject of a major retrospective at the University of Queensland Art Museum (1981) and at the Queensland Art Gallery (2007).

His work is held in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, most major state galleries, many regional galleries and the Metropolitan Museum, New York.