“There is something immensely exhilarating when tall white gums tower into the blue heavens – the subtle quality of the edges where they meet the sky – how mysterious.” Carrol, A., North, I., and Treganza, J., Hans Heysen Centenary Retrospective 1877 – 1977, Art Gallery Board of South Australia, 1977, p.12
This striking watercolour highlights the majesty of the Australian gum tree rising even beyond the picture plane and is typical of Heysen’s celebrated landscapes, many painted around his home in Hahndorf where his conservation efforts continue to be enjoyed at The Cedars today. Heysen had a passion for depicting such ancient trees, especially with a glow filtering through the branches, providing a contrast between light and shadow. The resting figure and quiet horses lend a calm atmosphere and give perspective to the heroic trees.
BESSIE ELLEN DAVIDSON 1879 – 1965 Still Life with Bowl of Fruit oil on cardboard 46 x 39.6 cm
The growing global interest in women artists is reflected in the increasing number of exhibitions highlighting their work. A number of artworks from our current exhibition of Innovative Australian Women are currently on loan to other exhibitions:
Joy Hester Remember Me at Heide Museum of Modern Art is showing until 4 October 2020 (check their website for updated viewing times). Further details and video tour of the exhibition with Curator Kendrah Morgan can be viewed here.
Bessie Davidson & Sally Smart – Two artists and the Parisian avant-garde at Bendigo Art Gallery which is showing until 26 July 2020. Australian artist Bessie Davidson forged a successful artistic career in France and is the great great aunt of contemporary visual artist Sally Smart who was profoundly influenced by Davidson, and who has created a new work in response to and to comment upon Davidson’s work and life.
Lauraine Diggins Fine Art is pleased to have assisted Bendigo Art Gallery with client loans of five Davidson artworks for this important and revealing exhibition, three of which are subsequently included in our current exhibition Innovative Australian Women. Bendigo Art Gallery has provided a walkthrough video of their exhibition which can be viewed here. The exhibition is also accompanied by an extensive catalogue which can be viewed here.
The Innovative Australian Women exhibition has been extended indefinitely due to Melbourne’s stage 3 health directions currently in place by the Victorian Government, allowing the Davidson works to physically re-join our Innovative Australian Women exhibition and awaiting a time for visitors once stage 3 directives in Melbourne are eased.
Bessie Davidson is a name being heard more now in Australia, the country of her birth, although her reputation in her adopted home of France has always been greater. In fact, Davidson was appointed Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur for Art and Humanity by the French Government in 1931, the highest accolade the French government can bestow.
The exhibition at Bendigo brings together over 50 of Davidson’s still lifes, interiors, portraits and landscapes, characterised by a sense of intimacy and a beautiful use of light and tone, an increasingly daring use of colour and vigorous brushstrokes.
“A courageous and pioneering artist, Bessie Davidson left the comfort of her home and family in Adelaide to pursue an artistic career in Paris, making a name for herself as a painter of modern impressionist works, in the French style.”
Her legacy, besides her paintings of light-filled interiors, women at leisure and still lifes, is her impact as a female artist – her success in her lifetime and continued celebration of her career; the growing recognition of her leadership in supporting women artists, including through formal organisations, and the path she left for others to follow and her contribution to Australian art, perhaps only now being acknowledged.[i]
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. She travelled to Europe with Preston in 1904 studying briefly in Munich, before moving to Paris where she attended the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. She exhibited at the Salon de la Société des Artistes Français and at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris at the height of fauvism in 1905. She was a founding member of the Salon des Tuileries.
She returned to Adelaide towards the end of 1906 and held a joint exhibition with Preston in March 1907. The National Gallery of South Australia purchased Davidson’s Portrait of Miss G.R. (ceramicist, Gladys Reynell) in 1908. Davidson returned to Paris in 1910, establishing a studio in Montparnesse, 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 forced to flee Paris during the Second World War, living in Normady, but able to return to her studio in 1945, where she remained until her death, aged 85.
Davidson fits within the numerous international artists who made Paris their home, including a growing group of Australians, particularly women, such as Iso Rae; Edith Fry; Hilda Rix Nicholas; Marie Tuck; Alice Muskett; Bessie Gibson; Anne Alison Greene; Kathleen O’Connor; Dorrit Black; Grace Crowley; Anne Dangar.
As Tansy Curtin, curator of the Bendigo exhibition, notes, maintaining her artistic career in Paris and as a female artist depicting foreign landscapes, her friends and their domestic interiors, and still life subjects has meant Davidson has been sidelined from the Australian artistic narrative with its particular focus on the idiom of the Australian landscape.
Her continuing interest in light, atmosphere and colour and confident brushstrokes are evident in the paintings included in our Innovative Australian Women exhibition:
Still Life with Pears (the pears especially reminiscent of Cézanne) is a beautiful example of her thought-out composition, expressive brushstrokes, and harmonious use of colour. Like all still life subjects, stripped of any narrative, it is a painting about painting. “Visually rich in its handling of colour, texture, volume, composition and paint itself, its appeal to the senses extends to the scent of pears. … Still Life with Pears finds curve repeating curve, as all moves towards a painterly abstraction.” [ii]
Still Life with Bowl of Fruit makes clever use of horizontal and vertical lines to focus the viewer’s eye and the unusual perspective … “where the viewer is made to feel as though they are seated at the table, across from their companion and about to drink tea and eat fruit.” [iii]
Laundry Boat on the River Seinec.1914 Many artists flocked to the vibrant cosmopolitan Paris in the early twentieth century, including a number of Australian women artists attracted by the proximity to international modernism, the more accepted status of women artists and the perceived social freedoms. “Davidson saw herself as belonging to the ‘modern French impressionist school’, combining the colour and light of impressionism with the more robust painting techniques of post-impressionism, and to a degree cubism, to illustrate everyday life in Paris” – capturing the day-to-day of her surrounds, such as the Laundry Boat on the Seine. [iv]
Ruth Lovell Gallery Manger
Public Collections include: Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Fonds municipal d’art contemporain, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris Musée des Beaux-Arts de Beaune, Beaune Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen, Rouen Musée d’Art et d’Industrie Andre Dillgent, Roubaix City of Edinburgh Council, Scotland City of Fife Council, Scotland
Exhibitions: Bessie Davidson, Osborne Art Gallery, Adelaide, 1967 Bessie Davidson: Une Australienne en France, 1880- 1965, Australian Embassy, Paris, 1999 Australian Impressionists in France, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2013 Bessie Davidson An Australian Impressionist in Paris, Bendigo Art Gallery, 2020
[i] Curtin, T. Bessie Davidson An Australian Impressionist in Paris, Bendigo Art Gallery, 2020, p. 14 [ii] Thomas, D. Collectors’ Exhibition 2017, Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne, p. 14 [iii] Curtin, T. Bessie Davidson An Australian Impressionist in Paris, Bendigo Art Gallery, 2020, p. 13 [iv] Curtin, T. Bessie Davidson An Australian Impressionist in Paris, Bendigo Art Gallery, 2020, p. 8
We are delighted that the recent Queen’s Birthday honours saw Yvonne Audette awarded the AM (Member of the Order of Australia) for her significant services as one of Australia’s leading abstract artists.
Audette undertook early studies in Sydney at the Julian Ashton School with Henry Gibbons and then from 1951 with John Passmore, who was to inspire her with his grater emphasis on colour and building a composition through geometric building blocks, influenced by Cezanne. She furthered her academic learning at the East Sydney Technical School with Lyndon Dadswell, as well as drawing sessions with Godfrey Miller, his abstract focus entwined with a personal mysticism. On the completion of her studies, Audette travelled and, unlike the traditional European tour, she started in America, living in New York at a time when abstract expressionism was just coming to the fore through the work of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky and Mark Tobey, among others. In 1955, Audette travelled to Europe, settling in Italy where she remained for more than a decade, taking in the influence of European abstraction and developing her own unique language based on a wide variety of experiences, including encounters of contemporary art as well as diverse periods from both east and western art history through her extensive travels.
A dedicated artist, Audette actively sought to surround and expose herself to contemporary art sources, experiences and teachers in order to absorb and redefine her own unique oeuvre. Her creative output undergoes rigorous examination, with later work referring to and reenergised by earlier constructions. Her abstraction is complex, deliberate and carefully constructed, although there is an element of intuition, with the formal construct often based on capturing the essence of a sensation, season or place. Much of her drawing and painting relates to music, a natural fit being a synthesis of discipline and creativity. Yvonne continues to paint, draw and teach, inspiring students with her experience and enthusiasm.
The 2014 monograph about Audette’s work summarises her artistic development as a “peripatetic journey that began with an ambitious young student going between her distinctively different, somewhat misanthropic but always inspiring teachers. Then there was her shift from Sydney to New York, and the maturation of her work in Italy, a cultural environment beautifully encrusted by the past yet enlivened by modern panache. In mid-career she uprooted herself from all this to return to her city of birth, only to abandon it again for the high pocket of forest growth that became the private space that nurtured her later work.” (Heathcote & Bruce, 2014, p. 173)
Lauraine Diggins Fine Art is proud to include Yvonne’s artwork in our current exhibition of Innovative Australian Women and looks forward to showcasing an exhibition of her work planned for later this year.
MICHAEL McWILLIAMS 1956 – Knee Deep in the Willows 2003 synthetic polymer on composition board 120 x 240 cm
Knee Deep in the Willows depicts a Friesian cow stranded in the mud and includes a frustrated farmer, hands on hips, on the other side of the river, contemplating the next move. The scene is inspired by the artist’s wanderings amongst the willows near his home in northern Tasmania, either fishing or with his dogs, where he is often confronted with a Friesian cow strayed from nearby grazing paddocks. Humans are rare in McWilliams’ painting. However, recent works introduce a human dialogue into his usual animal inhabited world. A further treasure in this painting is a Thylacine or Tasmanian Tiger hidden in the shadows, a subtle conservationist statement from the artist who is passionate about their ongoing existence despite human intervention in their environment.
McWilliams’ craft has evolved from smaller scale works, particularly painted wooden panels or painting on furniture, to larger scale canvases where the landscape is the focus. Much of McWilliams’ knowledge of antiques was acquired during his teenage years when he travelled with his father on buying trips around Tasmania for their antique shop in Longford. McWilliams explains “I started painting on furniture simply because I liked the old timber, and it was at hand. I enjoy painting things that are close to me: water, trees and mountains, and familiar local animals.”
In many of his works, it’s a fleeting moment in nature that he captures and preserves. The viewer curious to see what is inside is presented with a delightful surprise. The element of hidden surprise adds an extra dimension to McWilliams’ painting. Look carefully at the artworks as those who undertake the treasure hunt will be rewarded with a glimpse of a thylacine, a favoured motif of the artist. Like many, he is incredulous that human intervention could cause the extinction of this species and hopes that perhaps there are still a few Tasmanian Tigers out there, hiding in the shadows as they are in his paintings. McWilliams has been interested in the Thylacine since he was a child, McWilliams explains “I’ve drawn it since I was small, and have always tried to imagine what it would be like to see one and to consider different relationships we could have, like having one for a pet. I try to imagine them into my life.”
The added element of fun and humour is a familiar trait in Michael’s work although it does not detract from his environmental message which prompts the viewer to question the relationship between humans and animals, whether wild or domestic; the relationship between native and introduced species; and the relationship between humans and the environment and the impact this has made for native species in particular.
AWARDS 2016 Winner, Children’s Choice, John Glover Art Prize for Tasmanian Landscape 2015 Winner, People’s Choice, John Glover Art Prize for Tasmanian Landscape, Tasmania 2014 Winner, People’s Choice, Hanger’s Choice, John Glover Art Prize for Tasmanian Landscape 2013 Winner, Children’s Choice, John Glover Art Prize for Tasmanian Landscape, Tasmania 2012 Winner, People’s Choice, Bay of Fires Art Prize, St Helens, Tasmania 2011 John Glover Art Prize for Tasmanian Landscape, Tasmania, finalist 2010 Wynne Prize for Landscape, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Finalist 2010 John Glover Art Prize for Tasmanian Landscape, Tasmania, finalist 2008 Wynne Prize for Landscape, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Finalist 2008 The Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize, The South Australian Museum, Winner 2008 John Glover Art Prize for Tasmanian Landscape, Tasmania, Hon. Mention 2008 Fleurieu Biennale Art Prize, South Australia 2007 John Glover Art Prize for Tasmanian Landscape, Tasmania 2006 John Glover Art Prize for Tasmanian Landscape, Tasmania, Hon. Mention 2005 The Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize, The South Australian Museum, Winner 2004 John Glover Art Prize for Tasmanian Landscape, Tasmania, Winner 1996 Tasmanian Art Award, Eskleigh, Perth, Tasmania, Winner 1994 Trust Bank Open Art Award, Launceston, Tasmania, Winner
COLLECTIONS Queensland Art Gallery Danish Royal Family Tasmania Museum and Art Gallery Powerhouse Museum, Sydney Natural Trust of Australia (Tasmania) Parliament House, Canberra Devonport City Art Gallery The Glover Society Museum of South Australia Lauraine Diggins, Melbourne Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Tasmania
JAMES GLEESON 1915 – 2008 After the Transit 1989 oil on canvas 172 x 230 cm
James Gleeson was born in Sydney in 1915 and brought up by his Aunt and Mother. He was three when his father died. Gleeson trained at East Sydney Technical College and then spent time teaching both at primary level and lecturing at Sydney Teachers College. From 1949 to 1972 he was art critic for the Sun and from 1962 for the Sun Herald. Throughout his life Gleeson travelled moderately, visiting Europe, the States, South America, South Pacific and Japan. He spent most of his life in Sydney.
Influenced particularly by artists such as Salvador Dali, Hieronymous Bosch and van Gogh, Gleeson succeeded in becoming Australia’s first and foremost surrealist artist. He invites the unconscious to appear seeking fuller self knowledge. Like many of the Surrealists, Gleeson kept paper and pen beside his bed to record his dreams and used various painting techniques including frottage, decalcomania and impasto.
By 1980s the artist had pushed the extreme of the figure so far that to him it had almost become unrecognizable, hence his work became more abstract as he no longer felt the need to use form at all. This resulted in his later works being mainly oil on large canvasses and is particularly pleasing, showing how Gleeson’s struggle within eventually matured to a more calm, balanced depiction.
___ James Gleeson’s artworks have been included in the following public and private collections: Lapsed Shadows Recycled to a Capable Coast of 1988 in the Art Gallery of New South Wales; The Opening Gate of 1989 in the Colin and Liz Laverty Collection; The Dance of 1989 in the James Fairfax Collection; The Darkening Stage of 1991 in the National Gallery of Victoria and The Secret Heart of the Headland of 1991 in the National Gallery of Australia.
JACOPO LIGOZZI 1547 – 1627 Christ Carrying the Cross 1604 oil on canvas 135.9 x 102.5 cm signed lower left : indistinctly with monogram IL/1604. Surmounted by cross IL lower left
Provenance: A.L Nicholson Christie’s, London, 3 March 1924, lot 75 (as by Sebastiano) private collection Christie’s, New York, 14 January 1993, lot 89 (as attributed to Jacopo Ligozzi) Matthiesen Fine Art, London, 1992 private collection
It is intended at an appropriate time to donate this work to the National Gallery of Victoria, in memory of our gallery founder Lauraine Diggins OAM who passed away on Good Friday, the 19th of April 2019.
This dramatic depiction of Christ Carrying the Cross displays Ligozzi’s remarkable naturalism and highly accomplished rendering of detail. His controlled hand is evident in the haunting visage of Christ and the beautifully observed armour and weapons of the guard. The pommel of his sword exemplifies the often drawn comparisons between Ligozzi’s fastidious draughtsmanship and that of northern painters in Italy such as Hans Rottenhammer.
Jacopo Ligozzi moved to Florence from Verona in 1577, when he was appointed as court painter to Francesco I De’Medici the Grand Duke of Tuscany. He worked extensively for the Medici family until his death in 1627. This hauntingly beautiful work was painted by Ligozzi early in the 17th century, and was acquired by private treaty from Christie’s London in 2016.
“As the successor of Giorgio Vasari (1511 – 1574) to head the Accademia del Disegno, Ligozzi also became an important source for the influence of Venetian art in Florence. With this Venetian influence of Color, it enhanced Ligozzi’s Mannerist painting style and sculpture-like figures, as influence by Michelangelo. Born in Verona to a family of artists and craftsmen, Ligozzi became a successful painter, illustrator, designer and miniaturist, active mostly in Florence. His father, Giovanni Ermanno Ligozzi (1572 – 1605), was also a painter, as was his brother Francesco and his cousin Francesco di Mercurio.
Before settling in Florence in 1576, he was an artist for the Hapsburg Court of the Austrian Empire in the city of Vienna. From this illustrious position, he found another in Florence with several patrons from the Medici family. Additional to his religious and mythological depictions, he also painted and drew several works of fauna and flora. These works were not just artistic decorations, but highly detailed depictions used for the scientific records of Medici patrons and the Italian naturalist, Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522 – 1605).
Ligozzi’s first important public commissions came in the 1590’s, notably two monumental historical scenes, painted on slate, for the Salone dei Cinquecento of the Palazzo Vecchio, completed in 1592. He painted altarpieces for such local churches as Santa Maria Novella, San Marco and San Giovannino degli Scolopi. He also painted altarpieces for churches elsewhere in Tuscany; in Bibbiena, Poppi, Arezzo and at Monte Oliveto Maggiore, and returned briefly to his native Verona around 1591. Ligozzi’s best-known works as a painter are, however, a series of seventeen lunette frescoes of scenes from the life of Saint Francis for the church of Ognissanti in Florence, completed in 1600. The artist became increasingly devout as he grew older, and among his late altarpieces is a Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence for the Florentine church of Santa Croce, painted in 1611. His last Medici commission was for a series of four paintings of the Passion of Christ, painted between 1621 and 1622 for Maria Maddalena of Austria, mother of the young Grand Duke Ferdinando II and co-regent during his minority.
A number of his religious paintings remain in situ in churches.
Ligozzi’s importance and versatility were recently the focus of an exhibition at the Pitti Palace in 2014: Jacopo Ligozzi Pittore Universalissimo, Sala Bianca, Palazzo Pitti, Florence 27 May – 28 September 2014.
Ambrose Patterson 1877 – 1967 (On the Beach) oil on wood panel 21.5 x 26.5 cm
What a contrast to welcome summer for 2019 – snow in Victoria and Tasmania but bushfires in New South Wales and Queensland! So here are a few artworks to bathe in the warm glow of sunshine; feel calmed by the lapping of water or rest under shady trees and enjoy the long days of summer, at least in our minds…
Blackman captures the sunburnt outline of a beach bather, contrasted against the golden sand depicted in squares of burnished metal leaf. The simplicity of the figure’s graceful lines highlight Blackman’s skill as a draughtsman.
Boyd lived with his family at The Grange, Harkaway where the Berwick landscape was populated by hills and fields and pastoral farms as well as more wild areas of thick undergrowth and fallen gums.
In 1920-21 Bunny completed a series of richly coloured monotypes (painted on glass so only one unique impression is taken). Many of the works drew their subjects from mythology or orientalist interest, often featuring nudes completed in a decorative manner utilising complex and harmonious colour and pattern.
Andrew Sayers painted the landscape around the south coast of New South Wales over a number of years, including the picturesque wooden bridges. All painted en plein air, the works range from sunny depictions with lush vegetation and golden sands, to windy waves washing under the bridge, to minimalist imagery of the bridge pared back so the white posts seem to float in the air.
We extend our congratulations to William Eicholtz whose graceful and joyous large-scale sculpture At the Altar of Terpsichore has been selected for this year’s Sculpture by the Sea, with 100 sculptures along the spectacular coastline between Bondi and Tamarama Beach, NSW.
Eicholtz’s decorative Harvest Doormen welcome you to Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, as guardians either side of our front door.
Sculpture in an outdoors setting, especially on a large-scale is certainly eye-catching and a number of sculptural works are situated in our Gallery gardens including Peter Schipperheyn’s sensuous marble, My Wife.
Sculpture of a more domestic scale provides wonderful opportunities to display works in your home, such as the juxtaposition of assembled shapes, colours and materials in the work of Gus Dall’Ava, in the playful and intimate conversation of Twenty-Fifth Dialogue.
Augustine Dall’Ava Twenty-Fifth Dialogue 2008 painted and natural stones, painted wood, marble, stainless steel, 43.5 x 52 x 14.5 cm (click on artist name link to view other works)
We were delighted that Andrew’s friend and colleague Doug Hall was able to open the exhibition Andrew Sayers: Defining the Artist, featuring a series of over 40 gouaches of both intimate and sweeping views of the coast, the desert, gardens, bridges, rocks, seas and skies. Doug Hall AM, former Director at the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art and former Australian Commissioner of the Venice Biennale, spoke engagingly of the impulses which define an artist and the tradition of artists as curators and directors in our public institutions. His eloquent words about Andrew’s gouaches gave us all a greater appreciation of his ability as an artist to portray the Australian landscape with a real honesty, with “poise, quiet monumentalism and clarity.”
Watch the video below or click here for further details about the exhibition which is showing now until 27 April 2019.