An image of Landscape, between the Counties of Morbihan and Finistère

E Phillips Fox

(Australia, France 12 Mar 1865 – 08 Oct 1915)

Landscape, between the Counties of Morbihan and Finistère

Other titles:
Landscape, between the Counties of Morbihan and Finisterre, The Cabbage Garden, Cabbage Patch, France, 1880
19th c Australian art
Further information

By the late 19th century, as Australian artists turned with increasing attention to painting the distinctions of their sun-drenched landscapes, many looked to the Impressionist movement that had developed in France, to inspire their own efforts in evoking place. Fuelled by the French avant-garde’s experimental approach to expressing the sensations of light and colour, Australian artists connected with a radical new means for imagining their own world.

Like others of his Australian-born colleagues, Emanuel Phillips Fox, a student of the National Gallery School, Melbourne from 1878 to 1886 had demonstrated early talent, had his sights set of Paris to further his training. He arrived in 1887, immersing himself in the art of the city and setting a gruelling training schedule at various Parisian ateliers between 1887 and 1889. He followed the pattern of Paris’ artistic populous who retreated to the French coastline to paint in the summer months.

In 1889, Fox spent the summer months in Brittany and produced some of his most inspired paintings that represent the culmination of his artistic experiences of France. Amongst these is his dazzling Impressionist landscape Landscape, between the Counties of Morbihan and Finistère 1889. Like other artists painting in this region, Fox was interested in depicting local peasant life, but it is the luminosity in his evocation of this water-bound landscape that becomes the true subject of this painting. The overwhelming feeling that “the atmosphere vibrates with sunlight”, as noted by a reviewer of the work in 1892 when it was first exhibited in Melbourne, still holds true when viewing the painting today. The brilliant expanse of an opalescent palette and the criss-crossing build-up of speckled brushwork creates a shimmering surface of palpitating colour and makes for one of Fox’s great Impressionist masterpieces.

Fox’s Impressionist-inspired works would redefine his approach to painting the landscape when back in Australia. Accomplished paintings such as Landscape, between the Counties of Morbihan and Finistère, which is revealing of the artist’s great capacity for a vibrant, and sensuous colour expression would also inspire subsequent generations of Australian painters.

Place of origin
Morbihan, France
Finistère, Brittany, France
oil on canvas
58.9 x 97.7 cm sight; 81.5 x 120.3 cm x 9.0 cm frame
Signature & date

Signed and dated l.l., black oil "'E.P. FOX/ 89".

Purchased 2019 with funds provided by the Australian Masterpieces Fund, including the following major donors: In memory of Barbara Gole, Antoinette Albert, Anita & Luca Belgiorno-Nettis AM, Andrew Cameron AM & Cathy Cameron, Krystyna Campbell-Pretty & the late Harold Campbell-Pretty, Rowena Danziger AM & Ken Coles AM, Kiera Grant, The Greatorex Fund, Alexandra Joel & Philip Mason, Alison Kesson and Robyn Stone, Carole Lamerton & John Courtney, Alf Moufarrige AO, Elizabeth Ramsden, Susan Rothwell, Denis Savill, Penelope Seidler AM, Denyse Spice, Georgie Taylor, Max & Nola Tegel, Ruth Vincent, and the Australian Collection Benefactors Fund, 2019
Accession number