Questions suitable for children aged 6 to 12 years
King Edward VII (detail) 1910
The Edwardian era, around 1900-1914, was named after King Edward VII. It was a time of great excitement and social change, when many inventions and discoveries were made.
Just think what the world would be like without tea bags, teddy bears, cinemas, taxi cabs, aeroplanes and washing machines. They were all invented during the Edwardian era.
Thea Proctor left Australia for London in 1903 where she lived until she returned to Sydney in 1921. Proctor was a painter, printmaker, designer and teacher who loved to paint the fashions of the time. She was interested in the theatre, particularly ballet, and made art about the world of dressing up and make-believe. Sketching was an important way for her to work out ideas.
In London, Proctor studied printmaking and had a particular interest in lithography. To make a lithograph, she would use a special crayon to draw onto a smooth, flat stone. When paper was laid over this stone and put through a printing press, the drawing on the stone would be printed onto the paper – but in reverse.
Look closely at this lithograph by Thea Proctor. Does it look like a painting or a drawing? How has the artist created a feeling of action and movement?
Portrait group 1908
'My spare time, or what we spent away from the daily task of painting – was devoted to daily visits to the Louvre, and it may be that my studies of the masterpieces of this wonderful gallery formed the most important part of my training.'
George Lambert 1924
George Lambert left Australia in 1900 to live and work in Europe. He spent some time in Paris in 1901, but lived in London with his wife Amy and two sons Maurice and Constant. On the voyage to Europe in 1900, Lambert became friends with Hugh Ramsay. Both of these artists were eager to become part of the European scene and they studied together in Paris. Lambert was very skilled at making portraits. Portraits were Lambert’s specialty and he was even asked to paint a portrait of King Edward VII.
The models for Portrait group are George Lambert’s wife Amy and his two sons Maurice and Constant. Look closely at the faces in this image – can you see the face of Maurice? If you were having your portrait painted, who (or what) would you like to have in the picture with you?
Rupert Bunny was only 20 years old when he left Australia for Europe. He was a painter, printmaker and teacher who lived and worked in England and France for almost 50 years, returning to Australia to live in Melbourne in 1933. Between the years 1907–1911 Bunny made many paintings and drawings of women, sometimes alone or in a group. The paintings Summer night, Nocturne and drawings from Bunny’s sketchbook were made during that time and belong to a series known as the Days and nights in August. Bunny often used his wife, Jeanne, as one of the models in this series.
Look at the image of Nocturne, where do you think the group might be? Are they indoors or outdoors?
A study in clay [verso] Sketches of a bear 1901
‘The room is very much like those of scores of other students. It combines within its four walls the sitting-room, studio, bedchamber, and kitchen.’ 1
Imagine what it might have been like to have been an artist living in London or Paris over 100 years ago. Where would you live and where would you make your work?
The cities were crowded and artists would often live in areas where the rent was cheap. (These were not always the nicest parts of town) Artists surrounded themselves with books and images they admired. Manet and Whistler were two important artists of the period and artists would often pin posters of their works to the studio walls. Bookshelves would have been filled with magazines and books about the Old Master artists Velasquez and Rembrandt. Art magazines were important ways to find out information about the latest exhibitions in other cities and countries.
If you were an artist what would you have in your studio?
1 Clive Holland, ‘Student life in the Quartier Latin, Paris’ The Studio, October 1902.
Self portrait c1902
'Then I mustn’t forget the students. They nearly all try to grow beards and you see a fellow like this and find out he’s 22. He looks more like 40 doesn’t he? They wear loose velvet (brown) clothes, pants very wide above, and tight at the feet, big tie, wide hats, and all that.'
Hugh Ramsay writing from Paris to his family in Australia 6 February 1901
Settling in Paris in early 1901, Hugh Ramsay filled the pages of his sketchbooks with silvery pencil sketches of everyday objects and many self-portrait studies. In his sketches you can see that Ramsay is interested in using blocks of shadow to create the shape of his face. He pays particular attention to how light and dark changes the look of his face.
Ramsay also practised different poses and expressions that helped him to paint portraits of other people. In this self-portrait Ramsay shows himself from the side, his head turned to look at us. He looks formal, wearing a suit with a crisp white collar and has draped a red velvet curtain behind him.
Why do you think Hugh Ramsay made self-portraits? Do you think that it might have been more convenient and less expensive to make self-portraits?
Have you ever made a self portrait? Try it!