The arrival of the first Australian naval fleet in October 1913 provided artist Ethel Carrick Fox with a fine subject. She loved painting crowds and she loved painting Sydney Harbour. She brought both these passions together in a series of paintings depicting the fleet.
When Fox’s paintings were shown in Melbourne, a critic in the Leader remarked: ‘Mrs. Fox shows small concern for its minor trivialities. For her, detail does not exist; she sees only the broad, changing effects which pass before her in the moving crowds of the parks, the gatherings on the beach, and with rapid touches, she sets down her impression by means of disconnected patches of pure colour’.