One of the best things about being an NGV member is getting a first, relatively crowd free, look at exhibitions. Thus we were able to see this one on the 1st of April, a day before it opened at the Ian Potter Centre at Fed Square. It’s on until August 22 and I do recommend a visit.
A fuller survey of what’s on display than I’ve given here, is contained in this review in the Age.
I enjoyed it a lot notwithstanding the narrow view of history encompassed. A lot of it was very familiar; there are over 270 works on display and it is nicely presented in a range of different galleries.
I am familiar with many of Tom Roberts’ paintings, including this one painted in Box Hill.
But I was taken with how many of his works were on display and how diverse they were in both style and size. I loved this one probably produced in France or Italy.
It was interesting to see a whole room full of works that had been included in the 1889 9 by 5 Impression Exhibition. So named because many of the paintings were painted on nine by five inch cedar cigar-box lids. The artists sought to convey momentary, impressions of colour , light and the transient moods of nature … to free themselves from traditional attitudes about what could be considered a ‘finished’ work of art.
I loved this one by Tom Roberts; who was the chief instigator of the exhibition and who, along with Charles Conder and Arthur Streeton contributed the majority of paintings.
I liked this painting by Charles Condor. It was tiny, and the detail is astonishing.
I was confirmed in my appreciation of Arthur Streeton’s beautiful paintings; so full of light, although I find I didn’t photograph any of them. And I was a bit dismayed by the revelations about Arthurs conservative views contained in this essay in Inside Story. But to that perennial question that is asked of artists including Wagner, Yeats and countless others; does the personal life affect the art? I answer in the negative.
Conscious of the shameful lack of recognition of women painters ; reinforced by the Know Her Name exhibition in Canberra which I’ve talked about here, I was keen to see work by women and an effort had been made to include quite a few. Some were familiar, like this one by Clara Southern painted in Warrandyte and in the NGV’s collection. Clara wasn’t included in the Canberra exhibition – not a criticism of that exhibition, it acknowledged it contained only the tip of the ice-berg.
And here is another painted in Warrandyte by Clara; recognised enough to be bought by the NGV in 1962, but not known when painted.
I would have recognised Ethel Carrick, but only since the Know Her Name exhibition. As noted there, she loved painting crowds, and all of the ones on display here were full of people. As is this one probably produced in Trouville, France. It was purchased by the NGA in 1976.
These next three by Ethel are all in the NGV’s collection; this one since 1994. All of them were painted overseas. This one in Paris.
And this one in the Luxembourg gardens; purchased relatively early in 1949.
And this time in Florence. A gift, via an Australian Government cultural gift program, in 2020.
Jane Sutherland shared a studio with Clara Southern – mutual support is another strong theme for these women artists. I was not familiar with her work and she was not included in the Canberra exhibition. I loved this painting, produced in Box Hill and in the collection of the Art Gallery of Ballarat since 1976.
Here is another by the same artist. It was a gift to the NGV in 1972.
Jane Price produced this beautiful plein-air painting in Eaglemont. It was acquired by the NGV in 2020. Was it the choice of subject matter that caused it to be ignored for so long?
I was very taken with this painting by the same artist and in the same tones of green and yellow. It was probably produced in Macedon and was purchased by the NGV in 2020.
Here are two more of her paintings. Both in private collections and both probably produced in Eaglemont.
This is by a Melbourne artist called Mary Meyer. It’s in the NGA (a bequest in 1975) but wasn’t included in the Know My Name exhibition. The notes tell us what her father did – why?! More relevant is that she was taught by E. Phillips Fox.
There’s no information about Ina Gregory apart Australia 1874-1964. This beautiful painting was a gift from the artist to the NGV in 1947. I bet they put it in storage!
Violet Teague was in the Know My Name exhibition and she is one of the better known women artists from the period. The Melbourne Art School operated in the city and at Charterisville. This is held at the State Library of Victoria.
I liked this landscape by Helen Peters better. She was from Geelong and this is in the Geelong Art Gallery since 1965. She also studied at the Charterisville summer school which is where this painting was produced.
Iso Ray (the first name a diminutive of Isobel) produced this beautiful work probably in Étaples France. It is in the NGA, purchased in 1977. It bears a striking resemblance to a Jules Bastien-Lepage painting of Joan of Arc 1879 which was purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York in 1889.
Iso Ray also produced this work, which has been used in the publicity for the exhibition. I can’t decide whether I like it or not!. It’s in the NGV, purchased in 2020. Iso was not in the Know My Name exhibition
Nor was Florence Fuller, my final artist. She studied with Jane Sutherland at the National Gallery School and subsequently spent some time in WA. This painting was purchased by the Art Gallery of WA in 1996. It’s very beautiful and interesting to compare to the same subject by Iso Ray above.
Another of Florence Fuller’s paintings; this one purchased by the NGV in 1972. I found it striking.
So there you are. Get along to this exhibition over the next couple of months. It’s really worth a look. To see old favourites and to check out paintings that have been unfairly overlooked for so long. And afterwards pop in for a drink and a snack at Hero, the new cafe at ACMI, also well worth a visit.