Paris & London

While studying in Paris, most students painted continually and energetically. A number of works in this exhibition are student pictures, completed with whatever visual material these eager young painters had at hand, from their dimly lit, poorly heated live-in studios to views of the river Seine.

Most expatriate artists also travelled around Europe while abroad. Arthur Streeton, for example, embarked on artistic pilgrimages through Italy and rural Britain. Richard Hayley-Lever was one of a number Australians who worked in the popular Impressionist artists’ colony at St Ives, on Britain’s Cornish coast. From a base in Paris, Hilda Rix Nicholas, like E. Phillips Fox and his British-born wife Ethel Carrick, travelled extensively, capturing lively, high-key impressions of modern life and leisure from Paris to Morocco.

Fox and Carrick also visited Australia briefly, in part inspired by reports of the booming art market. Carrick’s works such as The quay, Milsons Point reveal her delight in the clear bright sunlight of this Australian coastal urban centre, in the manner of her European impressions. Until the founding of the Federal Capital in Canberra, all major urban centres (home to almost two-thirds of the Australian population) were located on the coast. While the beach subsequently became a key symbol of an Australian identity, during the Federation years representations of the city and the beach reflected more modern, less ‘characteristically Australian’ ideas of life and landscape.

Image detail: W.C. Piguenit Near Liverpool, New South Wales c. 1908
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, acquired with the assistance of the Masterpieces for the Nation Fund 2005