Menzies Art Brands



Ethel Carricks depictions of France during la Belle poque are undoubtedly some of her best and most accomplished works. This period of the artists life was one full of contentment and discovery which is evident in the subjects and execution of these works.

Born in England in 1872, Carrick had established her own artistic practice prior to her marriage to the Australian-born artist, Emanuel Phillips Fox (1865-1915). Carrick met Fox whilst at an artists camp in St Ives, Cornwall and later studied at Londons Slade School of Art where she learnt the many technical aspects of painting and drawing. The pair married in 1905 and moved to a small apartment in Paris at 65 Boulevard Arago, in the vibrant Left Bank community. They shared their new lodgings with a coterie of international artists with whom they had much in common.

Despite artistic foundations being laid during her training in England, Carricks exposure to the developments in the French art world are evident in her works from this period. The newly married Carrick took advantage of the proximity to local attractions, most notably the bustling market on Rue Mouffetard and the beautifully manicured Jardin du Luxembourg. The artist preferred to paint rather than sketch outdoors, capturing the motion of people and crowds as they moved throughout the city. Carricks works from this period are characterised by swift paint handling that captures the effect of light using high-keyed colour contrasts. Unlike her husband, she was not concerned with naturalistic detail and took a more progressive, impressionistic approach.

During a trip to Australia in 1913, Carrick remarked on her enjoyment in painting crowds, Its people who attract me. Crowds are to me what a magnet is to a needle. I love the colour, life, movement and individuality of a crowd my private feelings have no chance against the compelling charm of a mass of people.1 The artists proclivity for capturing city life is nowhere more deftly rendered than in her Luxembourg Gardens scenes such as Paris Park Scene 19062 and Luxembourg Gardens, Paris 1906, both in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia.3 Busy promenades of fashionable women and young children meander past rose gardens, enjoying the leisurely atmosphere beneath shadows cast by chestnut trees. Carrick captures these passing moments to perfection.

The present work, Concert in the Luxembourg Gardens, is such a moment. Here, the scene is one of stillness as seated figures enjoy music during an open-air concert beneath a canopy of trees. The artist paints the scene from the back of the audience; a path draws the eye through the crowd of chairs and hats towards unseen musicians. There is a sense of anticipation as the crowd gathers for the concert, dappled sunlight breaking through the cover of shade. Carricks painted impression of the Parisian crowd exemplifies her ability as a skilled painter en plein air. The artists work from this period embodies her experiences of the first decades of the twentieth century - as a young expatriate artist discovering the beauty of her surroundings and enjoying the flourishing cultural climate of pre-war Paris.


1. Distinguished Woman Artist, The Sun, Melbourne, 9 November 1913, p.19
2. Paris Park Scene 1906, oil on artists board, 26.7 x 34.9 cm, National Gallery of Australia collection, Canberra, purchased 1969
3. Luxembourg Gardens, Paris 1906, oil on panel, 26.6 x 35.2 cm, National Gallery of Australia collection, Canberra, purchased 1976

Caroline Jones
Caroline Jones has worked in the visual arts industry for more than 15 years, as an auction house art specialist and commercial gallery manager. She currently works as an independent art consultant specialising in art valuation, research, writing, collection management and curatorial services.


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