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Important Australian Art / Clarice Beckett (1887-1935) (Path Through the Ti-Trees)

Lot 38
Clarice Beckett
(Path Through the Ti-Trees)
23 August 2022, 19:00 AEST

AU$30,000 - AU$50,000

Clarice Beckett (1887-1935)

(Path Through the Ti-Trees)
oil on board
40.0 x 35.0cm (15 3/4 x 13 3/4in).


Private collection
Christie's, Sydney, 17 August 1999, lot 40, as Grey Day, Beaumaris (image verso)
Private collection, Melbourne

Clarice Beckett, at the age of 32, moved with her family to the bayside suburb of Beaumaris in 1919 and remained there for the rest of her life. After studying under the tuition of Frederick McCubbin at the National Gallery School, Melbourne, from 1914, she joined the controversial Max Meldrum at his rival school. Closely identifying with his methods and practice, Clarice adopted a lighter, freer and more impressionistic style of painting en plein air, which she translated into an atmospheric form of painterly abstraction.

'Clarice Beckett liked to paint along the edge of the shore: sand and water, boat and jetty, cliff and bay. She painted early in the morning and again in the evening, at the edge of day when shadows were long and the light diffuse. There were practical, domestic reasons for both of these choices, rehearsed in every telling of Clarice Beckett, the artist who lived with her parents in the Melbourne beach suburb of Beaumaris. As the unmarried daughter, domestic care of her aging parents fell to her, limiting the work of her art to the time and the place of her circumstances... The freedoms of travel and study in Europe that opened for other woman painting in the years between the wars were not for Clarice Beckett. She never travelled beyond Victoria; she did not even have her own studio. Her father had ruled that 'the kitchen table would do'. But for an artist as serious as Clarice Beckett it did not do, which is why, early each morning and again in the evening, before and after the duties of the day, she set out for the streets and beaches within walking distance of the house, pulling behind her a small cart for her paints, with a lid that served as an easel for her smaller paintings.. She explored the ambiguity of exactness and illusion, observing small changes in light and shadow, and experimenting with shifts in focus and angle.. she developed the style and sensibility for which she is now known as one of Australia's finest early modernists'1.

The present work, painted with her distinctive restricted palette, is an elegant example displaying her seamless transition between tones. The dappled light creating a sense of depth to a subject she knew most intimately, whilst the under-paint specifically to the branches offer a sense of movement, framing the central pathway in an atmospherically enchanting quality.

Alex Clark

1 Drusilla Modjeska, 'Clarice Beckett: At the Edge', Clarice Beckett, Niagara Galleries, Melbourne, 2014, p. 2

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