Still Life with Bowl of Fruit
- Bessie Davidson
- Still Life with Bowl of Fruit
- oil on cardboard
- 46 x 39.6 cm
inscribed verso: Bessie Davidson
Copyright the Estate of the Artist.
Collection of Conrad Kickert
Beaussant Lefevre, Paris, 2014
Private collection, Melbourne
Bessie Davidson & Sally Smart - Two artists and the Parisian avant-garde, Bendigo Art Gallery, 20 March - 26 July 2020
Innovative Australian Women, Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne, 25 March - 31 July 2020
Lauraine Diggins Fine Art Collectors' Exhibition 2017, Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne, 3 June - 29 July 2017
Australian Women Artists: Between the Wars, Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne, 3 March - 25 April 2015
Bessie Davidson is known for her paintings of still lifes, interiors, portraits and landscapes imbued with a beautiful use of light, tone and colour, becoming quite vigorous in her use of both colour and texture from the 1920s-30s onwards. Her recognition as an artist is perhaps stronger in her adopted city of Paris where she was appointed Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur for Art and Humanity by the French Government in 1931. Her work was included in the exhibition Australian Impressionists in France, National Gallery of Victoria, 2013 and she was the subject of a book, A Studio in Montparnasse: Bessie Davidson: An Australian Artist in Paris (Penelope Little, 2003).
Adelaide-born and with a Scottish background, Davidson studied art under Rose McPherson (later Margaret Preston) and exhibited with the South Australian Society of Arts in 1901-03.
Davidson returned to Paris in 1910, establishing a studio in Montparnesse, which became her home until her death, with only brief visits home in 1914 and 1950. At the outbreak of the First World War, Davidson hastened back to Paris and volunteered for the French Red Cross working as a nurse.
She was the first Australian woman to be elected to the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, (and was also appointed secretary in 1922). In 1930 she was elected Vice-President of La Société Nationale de Femmes Artistes Modernes; she was a founding member of the Société Nationale des Indépendants. She exhibited at the L’Exposition du Groupe Feminin at the Petit Palais in 1938 and was included in the Exhibition of French Art shown in Pittsburg, St Louis, New York and Edinburgh.
Her continuing interest in light, atmosphere and colour is perhaps most evident in her still-lifes. Still Life with Bowl of Fruit makes clever use of horizontal and vertical lines to focus the viewer’s eye.
Although she never married or had children, Davidson made strong connections with a large group of friends, particularly in Paris, becoming godmother to the daughter of her neighbor, Conrad Kickert an artist, critic and collector.
Conrad Kickert (1882 – 1965) was an artist, critic and collector and founding member of the Moderne Kunst Kring (MKK – Modern Art Society) in Amsterdam supporting artists including Mondrian, Sluyters, Toorop and exhibiting artists including Cezanne, Gaughin, Braque, van Gogh. Kickert settled in France in 1919 although regularly visited The Netherlands.