The James Gleeson oral history collection
James Gleeson interviews Australia's major artists
The dancers 1937
Painting, oil on canvas
76.6 h x 86.7 w cm
Cedric Flower on his recollection of Frances Lymburner
James Gleeson: The ballet features a great deal in his work. It seems to be a very dominant subject for him.
Cedric Flower: Yes, it is, although I don't know whether he liked ballet all that much. I've never heard him rave about ballet performances.
James Gleeson: Really? It was just dancers?
Cedric Flower: Just dancers, just dancers, especially in practice costume. I don't think he ever, well, he never did as Degas did, an actual ballet scene that I can recall.
James Gleeson: No.
Cedric Flower: They were always these backstage things of dancers resting or straddling chairs. But he really did love that. And he was always at the zoo sketching animals. He loved animals.
James Gleeson: The lion, I suppose, the lion or bird or the animal or the dancer.
Cedric Flower: Sorry?
James Gleeson: The lion, you know, the sort of draftsmanship.
Cedric Flower: Oh, of course, yes. I think the influence of Gaudier-Brzeska is very strong.
James Gleeson: Was it?
Cedric Flower: Well, he was mad about Gaudier-Brzeska and Gaudier-Brzeska's beautiful animal drawings certainly preceded Francis, but I think Francis just took it on. They were equally as good, I think. I think those animal drawings are just absolutely beautiful.
James Gleeson: Oh, they are, they are indeed.
Cedric Flower: So when he wasn't at the ballet he was at the zoo. And that beautiful one of a kangaroo, which I don't see here, which I had once.
James Gleeson: I think we do have it here.
Cedric Flower: I think it's one of the most lovely drawings.
James Gleeson: It's here somewhere.
Cedric Flower: It's the only thing consciously of an Australian subject matter that I ever recall Francis doing. He didn't really like Australia all that much. Well, he didn't respond to anything Australian.
James Gleeson: There's a nice one of a dog.
Cedric Flower: I think the only reason he did a kangaroo was because he found it in that lying posture so he made it look like a reclining nude. Not per se that it was a kangaroo. In fact, that would have put him off.