E Phillips Fox The ferry c1910–11

E Phillips Fox

Australia, France 1865–1915
Born in Melbourne, Emanuel Phillips Fox trained at the National Gallery of Victoria schools, followed by stints in Europe. From 1905 to 1913, he lived in France with his wife, the Australian artist Ethel Carrick. Like his friend, expatriate Australian artist Rupert Bunny, Fox was on hand to experience the profound changes of this era, but rather than join the avant-garde, they strove to succeed in the establishment, reflecting both the traditions of European painting and contemporary artistic expressions.

The ferry c1910–11

Sunny, informal and spontaneous, this is a very ‘French’ painting, showing the influence of impressionism, pictorialist photography and Japanese prints – all the height of fashion at the time. It is based on one of the rapidly painted impressions that Fox produced during his visit to the seaside resort of Trouville in the north of France in 1909, which was then scaled up and completed in his Paris studio.

When it was first exhibited in Sydney in 1913, it made a big impact, with a younger generation of artists loving its broken brushwork, patches of unpainted canvas, and adventurous way of fragmenting and juxtaposing colour.