Well, Hello again. Today I thought we’d take a bit of a look at Australian paintings only. By that I mean the subject is Australian – the painter may have been born overseas. Or vice versa.
The first one is The three gums, 1915-1920 by Hans Heysen who was born in Germany and arrived in Australia in 1884 aged six. He offered this painting to the National Gallery of Victoria in 1915 but they rejected it because of anti-German sentiment during the First World War. Ballarat purchased it in 1921 together with a preliminary drawing which shows the difference between the way it was in 1915 and the way you see it now.
Hans Heysen is one of our preeminent Australian painters and is particularly noted for his depiction of what he referred to as the Australian light. Reference.
His daughter Nora was the first woman to win the prestigious Archibald Prize in 1938 for portraiture and the first Australian woman appointed as an official war artist. Motherhood was painted in 1941.
Another painter who was also an official war artist was George Bell but in the First World War. His The conversation was painted in 1910 when he was working in England.
One of Ballarat’s own painters was David Davies and his Under the burden and heat of the day was painted in 1890. I have known days like that.
The first world war did change Australia and brought us to an abrupt realisation of our membership of the world.
Nora Meeson was an Australian painter but moved to England in 1900 aged thirty one where she stayed until her death in 1955. But her depiction of a soldier Leaving for the front is as relevant to the Australian circumstance as it was to the English.
More modern work introduces a different Australia.
Yosl Bergner was born in Austria and arrived in Australia in 1937 at the age of seventeen. Here in City lane the expressionistic style shows an Australia that is no longer a nation of wide open spaces and majestic trees but, as a result of economic depression, a country with a population downtrodden and disenfranchised.
I might have to have a different focus tomorrow.