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Australian Impressionists in France Exhibition

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by Jo Ferguson (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer, editor and photographer.You can view my hubgarden Photo Wow Factor at See my photos at or on my website at
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The Aussie artists who left a lasting impression in France
When you think of Impressionist art you probably have a vision of waterlilies in a garden pond by Monet. You certainly don't picture painters from Australia, making their mark, rubbing shoulders with the big guns in France, painting, exchanging ideas, and partying together as good mates.

john russel, peonies,and the head of a woman
Image from National Gallery of Victoria Media website

Australian artists have always struggled to prove their worth in an international art scene dominated by European masters. Yet the Impressionist Australian painters such as E Phillips Fox, John Russel and Charles Condor were carving out their own version of the Impressionist movement, working and socialising alongside such greats as Vincent Van Gogh and Henri Toulouse Lautrec.

So what was the big deal about Impressionist art I hear you ask? Some of the images look like something my eleven year old could paint.

Charles Condor
Image from National Gallery of Victoria website

Impressionist painters deliberately chose to create works of art that skimmed over fine detail. Often painted quickly, the purpose was to create an impression of the scene as they had witnessed it. Of great importance to them was capturing a feeling, an emotion of being there. So they focused their efforts on depicting the colours that dominated the scene, in particular the way the light created a mood at that exact point in time.

john russel,
Image from Queensland Art Gallery Website

During the nineteenth century painting En Plein Air (meaning outside) was practically unheard of. Previously most paintings were done in studios, often portraits or staged scenes that were painstakingly captured over time. However, with photography rapidly taking over this domain and doing it quickly and more accurately, painters turned to capturing an essence of a moment in time.

There were such dramatic changes happening all around them in the new modern world, these Impressionist painters hoped to capture the fleeting highly charged emotions experienced at that exact time and place, before it was lost forever in their rapidly changing world.

Heidleberg E Phillips Fox
Image from

Impressionism had such a lasting impact that it caused a ripple effect that carried over to other creative industries such as film, literature, and ironically, photography.

For the first time you have the opportunity to view a huge array of works created by Australian artists working in France from 1855 to 1915.

Australian Impressionists in France is a compilation of over 120 artworks, including paintings, drawings and prints, that have come from major public and private collections from all around the world.

So grab your family or a couple of close friends and go and be inspired by the emotions of the artists from this unique period in art and Australian history.
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Why? Show off your cultural knowledge at your next dinner party
When: Sat 15th June to Sun 6th Oct 10am - 5pm (closed Mondays)
Phone: 03 8662 1555
Where: National Gallery of Victoria Ian Potter Centre
Cost: Adults $16 Child $8 Concession $12 Family $42
Your Comment
Hi there, just wanted to let you know re: a small correction - that the exhibition is on until October 2013, not 2016, thanks.
by Julie White / Pictorial Girl (score: 3|1036) 2335 days ago
I love impressionist art. Used to have a Monet print on my wall. I didn't realise their were so many talented Aussie impressionists.. great article. Thanks Jo.
by Tracie Louise (score: 2|123) 2351 days ago
Thanks Tracie. I was equally surprised to learn that artists from this country played such a big part in the Impressionist movement, let alone working collaboratively and making friends with such famous French artists.
by Jo Ferguson (score: 2|179) 2350 days ago
lol oops! Bit of a type there obviously. Even my editor missed that one. Thanks for pointing it out Julie :)
by Jo Ferguson (score: 2|179) 2335 days ago
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