Clarice Beckett

Clarice Majoribanks Beckett (21 March 1887- 7 July 1935); Australian Tonalist painter whose works are featured in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria and the Art Gallery of South Australia.

...recognized as one of Australia's most important modernist artists. Despite a talent for portraiture and a keen public appreciation for her still lifes, Beckett preferred the solo, outdoor process of painting landscapes. She relentlessly painted sea and beachscapes, rural and suburban scenes, often enveloped in the atmospheric effects of early mornings or evening. Her subjects were often drawn from the Beaumaris area, where she lived for the latter part of her life. She was one of the first of her group to use a painting trolley, or mobile easel to make it easier to paint outdoors in different locations.

Max Meldrum once stated, "There would never be a great woman artist and there never had been. Woman had not the capacity to be alone". It is believed this reflects the overall opinion of the period; Beckett was continually put down by the critics and sold little in her lifetime.

A critic from The Age, 2 Sept. 1924, wrote:

One would imagine from the little scenes that Miss Beckett has gathered, in the name of Australian art, that Australia was in a continual state of fog – all kinds of fogs – pink, blue, green and grey with an occasional mist that surely was never on land or sea. Miss Beckett is probably feeling her way through the fogs and no doubt she will […] at least rise above the dreariness which characterizes her paintings at present.

Australian Tonalism

Australian Tonalism is characterized by a particular "misty" or atmospheric quality created by the Meldrum painting method of building "tone on tone". Tonalism developed from Meldrum's theory... claiming that social decadence had given artists an exaggerated interest in color and, to their detriment, were...
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First Collected by

Ann Maree Clark


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