Australian Artists Abroad, 1890-1914


My art history book Identity, Community and Australian artists, 1890-1914: Paris, London & Further Afield, a study of place, creativity and community, is available from Bloomsbury Academic (also on Amazon)!

Australians have always travelled. The artists in this book were lured abroad by the promise of wondrous opportunities, but their Australian-ness was a constant – dressing up in a stockman costume at the Chelsea Arts Ball, mimicking the call of a kookaburra at a portrait session, burning gumleaves (a ritual not appreciated by other patrons when performed at a cafe.)

The gorgeous wrap around cover features George Lambert’s The Sonnet, which includes two of his artist friends – Thea Proctor and Arthur Streeton – and is a play on Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe as well as its predecessor, Titian’s Fête champêtre.

The blurb:

An irresistible siren-call lured Australian artists abroad between 1890 and 1914, a transitional period immediately pre- and post-federation. Travelling enabled an extension of artistic frontiers, and Paris – the centre of art – and London – the heart of the Empire – promised wondrous opportunities.

Expatriate artists formed communities based on their common bond to Australia, enacting their Australian-ness in private and public settings. Yet, they also interacted with the broader creative community, fashioning a network of social and professional relationships. They joined ateliers in Paris such as the Académie Julian, clubs like the Chelsea Arts Club in London and visited artist colonies including St Ives in England and Étaples in France.

Australian artists persistently sought a sense of belonging, negotiating their identity through activities such as plays, balls, tableaux, parties, parades, dressing-up and, of course, their art. While individual biographies are integral to this study, it is through exploring the connections between them that it offers new insights. Through utilising extensive archival material, much of which has limited or no publication history, this book fills a gap in existing scholarship. It offers a vital exploration re-consideration of the fluidity of identity, place and belonging in the lives and work of Australian artists in this juncture in British-Australian history.

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