Ethel Carrick Fox
1872 - 1952
Ethel Carrick Fox is best known for her vibrant paintings created en plein air capturing the leisure class of Paris - the markets; parks; gardens and beaches of France. The rich dabs of pure bright colour and a focus on decorative rather than narrative elements, allow the strength of her understanding of colour and her considered compositions to shine through.
Born in Uxbridge, England, Ethel Carrick Fox was working in an artists’ colony in St Ives, Cornwall, after training at the Slade school, when she met Emanuel Phillips Fox. They married in 1905 and lived in Paris until 1913, affording them the opportunity to travel in Europe and northern Africa. By 1908 Carrick Fox was a member of the Union Internationale des Beaux-Arts et des Lettres; in 1911 she became sociétaire of the Salon d'Automne, later an associate of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts and prior to 1913 was the vice-president of the International Union of Women Painters. In 1928 she won the diploma of honour at the International Exhibition of Bordeaux.
Ethel Carrick Fox has been described as ‘colourful’ and ‘daring’, both her art and her life. An inevitable comparison with her husband Emanuel Phillips Fox certainly bears this out, as she moved beyond an impressionist sensibility to the more colourful and linear style of post-impressionism, as would have been the flavour in Paris with artists such as Matisse and Derain, with whom she exhibited. Her paintings of daily life; flower studies and works inspired by travels, are imbued with vibrant colour, strong composition and a concern to explore light. Her inclusion in the Salon d’Automne (created in 1903 as a move away from the academic and bringing movements such as fauvism and cubism to greater notice) from 1906, further highlights her lifelong trend of not conforming to social expectations of the time; focussing on her career rather than motherhood. Although the growing acceptance of female artists is upheld on the cover of the 1908 Salon d’Automne catalogue, which depicts a woman painting.
Carrick Fox established her career in Paris, London and in Australia with visits to Australia in 1908, 1913, 1925, 1933, 1940, 1948 and 1952, with exhibitions of her work and painting in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide. She particularly championed her husband’s work following his premature death. The recognition of Emanuel Phillips Fox has somewhat overshadowed her own until more recent times. A painting of a French flower market sold at auction in 1996 saw Carrick Fox become the highest price achieved by an Australian woman artist; with recent sales over one million dollars (in 2008 and 2019).
Alienated from her in-laws, Carrick Fox was supported by the Theosophical Society where she stayed in Mosman, Sydney, and who enabled her travels in India, Africa and Europe. Later in life, she had a studio in Sydney, where she also gave art lessons. She returned to Melbourne, just prior to her death in 1952.
Achievements, Collections & Commissions
1903 Melville Nettleship Prize for Figure composition
1903 Royal Academy of Arts, London
from 1906 Salon d'Automne, Paris
1911 appointed sociétaire of the Salon d'Automne, serving as a jury member from 1912 to around 1925
1928 Diploma of Honour at the Bordeaux International Exhibition
1979 Ethel Carrick (Mrs E. Phillips Fox): A Retrospective Exhibition, Geelong Art Gallery
2011 Art, Love & Life: Ethel Carrick & E. Phillips Fox, Queensland Art Gallery
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart
Castlemaine Art Gallery, Victoria
Manly Art Gallery, New South Wales
Mosman Art Gallery, New South Wales
Cruther's Collection of Women's Art, the University of Western Australia
Phillips Fox & Ethel Carrick, Deutscher Fine Art, 1997, p.55
Ethel Carrick (Mrs E Phillips Fox): a retrospective exhibition, Art Gallery of Geelong, 1979
Goddard, Angela, Art, Love & Life: Ethel Carrick & E. Phillips Fox, Queensland Art Gallery, 2011, p.79
McDonald, John, Ethel Carrick and E Phillips Fox, The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 April 2011
Pigot, John. "Les femmes orientalistes: Hilda Rix Nichols and Edith Carrick Fox in the East". Strange Women: Essays in Art and Gender, ed. Jeannette Hoorn, University of Melbourne Press, 1994, pp. 155–68
Susanne de Vries, Ethel Carrick Fox: Travels and Triumphs of a Post-Impressionist, Pandanus Press, 1997, p.73