Friday, February 27, 2009

Elegant Aussie Venetian Views

James R Jackson, Bridge at Chioggia, Venice 1907. National Gallery of Victoria.

We recently popped into the excellent Castlemaine Art Gallery and noticed a magazine sized catalogue for a 2005 exhibition entitled Venezia Australia - Australian Artists in Venice, 1900 - 2000.

E Phllips Fox, Venetian Boats 1906-7, National Gallery of Victoria.

These two sketches of working sail boats (long gone from Venice) and the complimentary palettes and structure particularly caught my eye.

The core of the exhibition was made up of paintings, sketches and photos from Arthur and Nora Streeton's visits to Venice. Streeton is one of my favourite Australian artists. Not so much for his painting (although I do like some of them very much), but for his draughtsmanship and sketching ability in ink, pencil and paint.

Arthur Streeton, Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, with gondolas c.1908. Art Gallery of S Australia.

This lovely, carefully-worked pencil sketch was developed into a bigger painting, where the boats were 'dropped' by adjusting to a higher viewpoint. Ironically, I much prefer the pencil sketch, including the construction lines on the tower.

Not the typical Aussie abroad.

What I hadn't realised was that our Arthur was a bit of a dapper dresser, and as well as obviously being able to find St Mark's Square empty (about as possible today as Venice suddenly becoming shipshape and Bristol fashion) had a moustache that probably received more care than his brushes.

"Having emptied St Mark's Piazza, for my next trick, using only my handkerchief, I will lasso the lion on a stick. Watch closely."

You never know what you are going to discover next. Arthur Streeton's moustache and waistcoat as seen in Venice, found in Castlemaine.

Anyway, the guide has just been packed up and is to be dispatched to father one (bearded) for perusal and onward transmission to father two (unbearded) for interest...


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