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Latest exhibition at the NGV leaves a great impression
As anyone who went to the Napoleon exhibition at the NGV International back in 2012 well knows, there has long been a mutual admiration thang going on between France and Australia.
As early as 1805, Bonaparte commissioned a French expedition to the Southern Lands with a brief to map what became known as Terre Napoléon – the Victorian coastline. He and Josephine shared a fascination for the land described in Captain Cook's recently published travels, and later provided a home at their country residence Malmaison for much of the flora, fauna and paintings that arrived back with the expeditioners.
Over the centuries, Australians have returned that fascination in spades. The current exhibition of Australian Impressionists in France at the NGV Ian Potter Centre at Federation Square highlights the artistic interaction between some of Australia's leading painters and the French impressionists from the 1880s to the early twentieth century.
[ADVERT]In those heady days, artists like E Phillips Fox, John Russell and Charles Conder spent time in Paris and the French countryside hoovering up the atmosphere and creating bonds of friendship with leading French artists of the day like Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh. The current exhibition at Fed Square provides a neat tie-in with the current Monet blockbuster at the NGV International, and if you haven't already seen it you need to get yourself over the bridge to St Kilda Road before September 8.
Australian Impressionists in France also gives a shout out to the girls - Florence Fuller, Iso Rae, Mary Meyer, Jane Sutherland, Margaret Preston, Frances Hodgkins, Hilda Rix Nicholas, Bessie Davidson and Kathleen O'Connor . Not all of them were born in Australia but they shared a strong connection with our Great Southern Land and hey, we claim Russell Crowe when it suits us.
The gallery space at the Ian Potter Centre is one of the great hidden secrets of Melbourne, and we should all be beating a path to its door. There are always free exhibitions on offer, as well as a decent coffee in the café and a quiet retreat from the city traffic, both vehicular and human, that passes by its front door. Get amongst it.