Born Hamburg, Germany 1877, arrived Australia 1883, died Hahndorf, South Australia 1968
Hans Heysen arrived in Australia as a young child in 1883. Showing artistic talent from an early age, he studied at the Norwood Art School and the Adelaide School of Design, selling his first work at the age of sixteen. In 1899, with the support of four private entrepreneurs, Heysen was funded to travel to Europe to study, and spent the following four years primarily in France and Italy painting and studying.
Returning to Adelaide in 1903, he was struck by the intensity of the Australian light and character of the landscape and began to paint bush scenes, particularly the gnarled forms and delicate colouring of gum trees. Following several successful exhibitions, Heysen purchased a property in Hahndorf outside Adelaide to be surrounded by the landscape he loved to paint.
Summer afternoon, Ambleside (1936) depicts an area around Hahndorf where Heysen lived and worked for most of his adult life. During World War I, strong anti-German sentiment developed in the town and its name was changed in 1918 by an Act of Parliament to Ambleside. It was not changed back until 1936.
Heysen was the winner of the Wynne Prize for landscape painting nine times between 1900 and 1932, and was knighted in 1959. He was also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Art Gallery of South Australia (1940–68). His works have been included in many major national exhibitions and he was the focus of a major retrospective at the Art Gallery of South Australia in 2008. He is represented in most major Australian public collections and many regional galleries.