Down on His Luck is an 1889 painting by the Australian artist Frederick McCubbin. It depicts a disheartened swagman, sitting by a campfire in the bush and sadly brooding over his misfortune. According to an 1889 review, "The face tells of hardships, keen and blighting in their influence, but there is a nonchalant and slightly cynical expression, which proclaims the absence of all self-pity ... McCubbin's picture is thoroughly Australian in spirit." The surrounding bush is painted in subdued tones, reflecting his somber and contemplative mood.[1]

Down on His Luck
Down on his luck.jpg
ArtistFrederick McCubbin
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions114.5 cm × 152.8 cm (45.1 in × 60.2 in)
LocationArt Gallery of Western Australia, Perth

The artist's model was Louis Abrahams, a friend and successful tobacconist in Melbourne who earlier supplied the cigar box lids for the famous 9 by 5 Impression Exhibition. The scene was staged near the Box Hill artists' camp outside Melbourne, but it is thought that McCubbin would have made additional studies of Abrahams under studio conditions.[1]

The painting was owned by William Fergusson until it was purchased in 1896 by the Art Gallery of Western Australia in Perth.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Clark, Jane; Whitelaw, Bridget (1985). Golden Summers: Heidelberg and Beyond. International Cultural Corporation of Australia. ISBN 0-642-09855-7.