Peonies and head of a woman (c. 1887)
oil on canvas
40.7 x 65.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
The Joseph Brown Collection. Presented through the NGV Foundation by Dr Joseph Brown AO OBE, Honorary Life Benefactor, 2004
For the first time, the story of the Australian artists who lived in France during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is presented in an exhibition of over 120 stunning works of art. Australian Impressionists in France challenges our understanding of Australian art during these revolutionary decades.
Beginning in the 1880s and continuing into the twentieth century, many of the best and brightest art students left Australia to continue their studies in Paris, the undisputed world capital of the arts. In France the Australians became part of the large community of French and foreign artists who were changing the course of art.
Claude Monet demonstrated his Impressionist technique to John Russell; Charles Conder trawled the cabarets of Montmartre with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec; and Vincent van Gogh considered Russell a friend. In France, Australian artists engaged in personal and artistic exchanges with artists from around the world.
The exhibition shows that during these years Australian art took place beyond the confines of Australia, and examines how the expatriate artists were part of the story of Impressionism in Australia. Through the inclusion of key works by French, British and American artists the exhibition also places the Australians’ work within an international context of Impressionist art.
Australian Impressionists in France brings together over 120 paintings, prints and drawings from major public and private collections around the world. It includes important paintings by John Russell, E.Phillips Fox and Charles Conder, as well as never before seen works by lesser-known artists.