Hans Heysen

Wilhelm Ernst Hans Franz Heysen was born in Hamburg on 8 Oct 1877 the 6th child of Louis Heinrich Wilhelm Heysen and his wife Maria Elisabeth Henriette, née Eberhard. At the age of 6 he emigrated with his family to South Australia. His father had gone ahead the previous year (1883) to make appropriate preparations for his family.

Heysen left school in 1892, working first in a hardware store and then on one of his father's carts. At 14 he bought his first paints: I saw a drainpipe with stalks and reeds … It seemed to me beautiful so I painted it, he said.He enrolled at James Ashton's Norwood Art School and by the age of 16 was painting so well that Ashton bought a watercolour entitled, The Wet Road now at the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Heysen quickly attracted wealthy patrons including Robert Barr Smith who paid tuition fees at the school of design at the Art Gallery of South Australia under Harry Gill. In 1899 four men offered Heysen a contract in which they agreed to advance £400 to finance his studies in Europe in return for the right to recoup their outlay by selling whatever he might paint while overseas.

He married Selma Bartels 15 Dec 1904

By 1912 he had earned enough to purchase a property, the Cedars at Handorf where he remained for the rest of his life painting local vistas and in particular the gum trees of the district.

Heysen holds a place in the history of Australian landscape art. He won the Wynne prize nine times between 1904 and 1932, the Crouch prize in 1931, and the Maude Vizard-Wholohan prize in 1957. He was knighted in 1959.

Heysen fought to preserve the flora of the Adelaide Hills.

He died at Mount Barker 2 Jul 1968. He is remembered within SA with the Heysen Range in the Flinders, the Heysen Trail - a walking trail from Cape Jervis to Parachilna Gorge, the Heysen Tunnels on the Hills Freeway and the Heysen Electorate.

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