This week’s Art Salon on 23 September 2021 features 29 works by the Australian artist Anne Marie Graham. This vibrant and whimsical selection is taken from Anne’s remaining personal stock and provides a rare opportunity for a range of 17 oil paintings, 6 oil paintings on shaped boards, and 6 works on paper to be offered at the same time.
A recognised child prodigy in her home in Austria, Anne at the time became the youngest student to be accepted into RMIT shortly after arriving to Melbourne with her family in 1939 and is one of the last surviving artists to have trained with the renowned George Bell. Anne’s artworks are vibrant in colour, confident in line and made cohesive by her use of pictorial design that resonates with everyday life; inspired most notably by the art of Pieter Bruegel. Following an extensive and successful career dating from the late 1940s, Anne retired from painting in 2018 and now lives quietly at the revered age of 97. She is represented in numerous State Gallery, University and corporate collections across Australia and New Zealand, and is included in the National Museum of Arts, Washington.
The arrival of Anne’s works last week brought joy and excitement to the Art Department at Leonard Joel. The works instantly transport the viewer to another world through the vivid, bright contrasting colours and playful subject matter, to a reality filled with joy and frivolity, providing some escapism and comfort during these difficult times.
My personal favourites from the collection include the petite painted Banksia on board (lot 18). The vibrant green, intricate details and sweet shape of the Banksia nut caught my eye immediately and reminded of the many summer days I have spent with family along the Peninsula where Banksia trees are native and abundant. Another favourite is Our Fountain (lot 1), as it reminds me of the beloved Renaissance painting in the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) by Antonio Vivarini (studio of), The Garden of Love c.1465-1470, depicting a water fountain at the centre of a pleasure garden lined with roses, rich in symbolism and imbued with evocative imagery. Anne’s painting similarly depicts a dreamlike secluded garden centred around a fountain that is instilled with a sense of playfulness and reflects the fruitfulness and beauty of nature. The yellow Spring buds in the tree almost appear like fairy lights, setting the mood and creating an atmosphere of magic and escapism; a romantic oasis where lovers can sneak away.
Our Art Salon Assistant, Tessa, was instantly drawn to the muted and moody lilac colours throughout Pool Series V (lot 8). She loves the way Anne has played with the tonal variation of purple and green hues within the work. The dark shades of colour and glowing sky produces an evocative yet peaceful night setting, where the viewer can contemplatively watch the moonbeams dance across the pool of water.
I hope you are all equally delighted by these beautiful, whimsical artworks. The auction catalogue will be online to browse on Wednesday 22 September ahead of the auction on Thursday 23 September at 11am.
Amanda North, Art Salon Manager