( Femme Bretonne a Jardin, Étaples )
Isobel (Iso) Rae
- Isobel (Iso) Rae
- ( Femme Bretonne a Jardin, Étaples )
- oil on canvas
- 83.5 x 43 cm
signed lower left: ISO RAE
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Isobel ‘Iso’ Rae undertook studies at the National Gallery School, under the tutelage of George Folingsby (Painting and Oswald Rose Campbell (Design), consistently receiving honours for her work. She exhibited with the Victorian Academy of Arts from 1881 -83 before moving to France with her mother and sister in 1887. Here she attended the Academie Colarossi and by the early 1890s the family settled in Etaples, a picturesque fishing village on the coast of northern France, home to a vibrant expatriate arts community, where she crossed paths with fellow NGV students Rupert Bunny and James Quinn. Hilda Rix Nicholas and Phillips Fox were among other Australian artists drawn to Etaples.
Rae continued on occasion, to show her work in Australia and gained recognition with inclusions of her work in the Old Salon, Paris and Royal Society of British Artists, London. Her work shows the influence of impressionist and post-impressionist concerns encountered in Paris at this time. Rae’s paintings en plein air, focussed not only on landscape but to the people of the area.
In 1892, the Society of Friends of the Arts of Etaples was established, a group with which Rae exhibited. The same year, the Musee Quentovic acquired her painting, Pierrot, possibly the earliest work by an Australian artist to enter a French public institution. The NGV has recently acquired Rae’s Young Girl, Etaples c.1892, purchased for a record price. Like her fellow Australian artists, including Rupert Bunny, Bessie Davidson and John Peter Russell, Rae spent the majority of her career living and working in France and is only now becoming more celebrated in the country of her birth.
(Femme Bretonne a Jardin, Etaples) shows a woman standing in a flower-filled garden and most likely dates from the 1890s, showing the influence of French Impressionism, especially through the evocative light. Our eye is led along the path into the painting and drawn to the figure, dressed in colours both complementary to the touches of blues and pinks and also contrasting with the green foliage and yellow ochre ground. The painting fits with popular themes artists’ were drawn to at the time, depicting labourers in provincial costume, drawing on the tradition of Bastien-Lepage and Millet. The house is typical of those in Etaples with its gabled roof and dormer windows. The white blossoms, fluffy against a bright blue sky are reminiscent of Russell and Van Gogh.