Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Cedars, Hahndorf

MDR & MB were scratching around for something to do on MDR's last day in Adelaide and saw in an Adelaide Hills guide a small mention of the family home of the famous artist, Hans Heysen, which was open to visitors. This turned out to be one of the highlights of the Adelaide visit, a beautiful home and studio (pictured) set on 130 acres on the outskirts of Hahndorf, and hardly changed within the last 80 years. This home, which is very comfortable but not at all grand, is filled with Heysen artworks and other beautiful objects, books and publications. Not to mention the gardens which are a lovely haven featuring Himalayan Cedars.
Hans Heysen was an exceptionally talented and prodigious artist with an output of over 20,000 artworks in his time. Heysen's famous paintings of eucalyptus trees are iconic and one learns during the tour of his property that he was an ardent conservationist who kept buying land to save the gum trees. He would even pay nearby landholders to stop them from felling gum trees on their land. Heysen was born in 1877 in Germany and emigrated to Australia when he was 7 years old. When Heysen died in 1968 his collection of Rembrandt & Vermeer paintings tragically had to be sold to pay SA death duties, most of these paintings ended up overseas. Luckily in 2003 a Rembrandt self portrait was found in the house and it is now there on display. MDR reckons Heysen is a much better artist and MB wholeheartedly agrees.
It was a real privilege to visit this property as it still a family home for the Heysen descendants and therefore does not look nor feel like a museum.

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