Past Catalogue | The Collection of Millie Phillips, Lots 1-49 | Important Australian & International Art, Lots 50-153 | Date: 23 November, 2022

Lot 55
Lemon and Grey 1933
oil on canvas on board
30.5 x 35.0 cm

signed lower right: A. REHFISCH


Macquarie Galleries, Sydney
H. M. Sherrard, Sydney
Sotheby's, Sydney, 29 November 1991, lot 276 (as Corner of the Studio)
Private collection, Sydney


'Art Exhibitions. Mrs. Rehfisch and Mr. Duncan,' The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, 21 April 1933, p.7
Burke, J., Australian Women Artists, One Hundred Years: 1840-1940, Greenhouse Publications, Melbourne, 1980, p.177 (illus. p.134, pl.60, as Still Life with Gardenia c1930)
Power, R., Alison Rehfisch: A Life for Art, The Beagle Press, Sydney, 2002, p.141, cat.10 (illus. pp.5, 18)


Joint Exhibition with George Duncan, Macquarie Galleries, Sydney, 20 April 1933
Paintings by Alison Rehfisch, Macquarie Galleries, Sydney, 21-27 November 1933, cat.21 (inscribed on label attached verso)
Australian Women Artists, One Hundred Years: 1840-1940, Ewing and George Paton Galleries, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, 2 - 27 September 1975 (label attached verso)
The Art of Alison Rehfisch, S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney, 20 April - 26 May 2002

Hammer Price + BP A$67,500.00

Mrs Rehfisch’s success depends on an unusual combination of qualities. There are many artists with a strong feeling for pattern; many with a keen sense of colour; and many equipped with a ready technique for expressing tone and texture. Mrs Rehfisch, however, excels in all three departments. This … gives her canvases their singular effect of completeness and concentration. The effect is most noticeable in the still-life subjects, especially ‘Green and Orange’ and ‘Lemon and Grey.’1

Lemon and Grey 1933 is a singular example of Alison Rehfisch’s still-life paintings, created during the most important year of her working life. In April 1933, Rehfisch staged her first joint exhibition with fellow Sydney painter George Duncan (1904-1974); the man who would later become her second husband. Rehfisch’s first solo exhibition was held at Macquarie Galleries the following November, with an opening speech by her friend and mentor, Margaret Preston (1875-1963).2 Rehfisch would depart Australia at the end of that year to study at London’s Grosvenor School of Modern Art under the tutelage of Iain Macnab (1890-1967), the pioneering Scottish painter and printmaker.

Lemon and Grey reveals an artist already well versed in the principles of modernist still-life painting. Rehfisch maintains a muted palette in complementary tones of pink and green, yellow and mauve. Natural elements are expertly contained by a cluster of vessels in earthenware and glass, throwing dense shadows onto the adjacent walls and tabletop. The diamond-like shape of the central composition is repeated in the black-and-white tiling of the upper right. It is an image marked by its composure and coolness, a vision of domesticity untouched by the chaos of modern life.

1. ‘Art Exhibitions. Mrs. Rehfisch and Mr. Duncan,’ The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, 21 April 1933, p.7
2. Power, R., Alison Rehfisch: A Life for Art, The Beagle Press, Sydney, 2002, p.57

Catherine Baxendale