Born in Melbourne, 25 February 1855, Frederick McCubbin studied at the Artisan’s School of Design, the National Gallery School and Victorian Academy of Arts in Melbourne.
Outstanding among the Federation period painters, McCubbin produced two of the most famous Federation paintings, The Pioneer and Lost as well as many later, intimate impressionist views of the Australian bush. From the late 1880s McCubbin’s art became increasingly more narrative in its content and he continued to work in this manner into the early 20th century. He made only one trip to Europe in 1907 and was greatly influenced by J M W Turner with the result that his style became freerer.
The painting Boats at Williamstown, Melbourne was painted the year following his return from Europe and shows the loose handling of paint that resulted from his exposure to the work of Turner and the late impressionists.