The subject of this work is the old Redfern railway station, situated on Devonshire Street, just south of where Sydney's Central Station is now located. It was painted three years after Streeton first visited Sydney and falls within the tradition of tonal paintings of wet urban scenes which existed alongside the nationalistic evocations of sunlight and heat in Australian painting of this period. 'Fireman's funeral, George Street' is another rainy city scene by Streeton that depicts the enormous public response to a fireman's heroic death, as the coffin passes the Sydney Town Hall and Queen Victoria Building construction site. However, more than addressing the subject of the railway station, 'The railway station, Redfern' is an atmospheric study of rain and light.
International influences on Streeton's choice of modern railway subject matter and his evocative approach, include French and British Impressionism as well as the decorative, asymmetrical design and flattened picture plane of Japanese woodcuts. Streeton continued to experiment with these elements throughout the mid-1890s in his numerous paintings of Sydney Harbour and decorative panels on the subject of Sirius Cove completed whilst he was staying at nearby Curlew Camp.