Cassis, South France signed 'E. Phillips Fox' lower left oil on canvas 37.2 x 42.2cm (14 5/8 x 16 5/8in).
PROVENANCE Private collection Deutscher Fine Art, Melbourne Private collection Thence by descent Private collection, Perth
EXHIBITED Australian Art: Colonial to Modern, Deutscher Fine Art, Melbourne, 9-25 April 1986, no. 63 (illus).
"Mr Fox has handled his colour as a musician his notes it is all in time and wondrously in tune."1
Emanuel Phillips Fox (1865 1915) was a painter of modern life during one of the most transformative and innovative periods in art history. Formally trained at the National Gallery School in Melbourne and later the Académie Julian in Paris, Phillips Fox was deeply influenced by the Impressionist movement and style of painting. His profound influence on subsequent generations of Australian artists cannot be overstated. Phillips Fox, together with his wife Ethel Carrick (1872 - 1951) remain one of the most significant artistic pairings Australian art has seen and this year were honored by the Art Gallery of Queensland with the exhibition titled 'Art, Love & Life'.
Phillips Fox's paintings are a synthesis of the tenants of his formalist training and the impressionist vision he immersed himself in during his years abroad. In his own words he sought to "work on a picture as a whole not always outdoors striving for both poetic feeling and vibrating chromatic relationships."2
For Phillips Fox and Carrick travel became a favoured leisure activity during their marriage that profoundly affected their art. From their base in Paris they travelled extensively in Europe and North Africa, chasing the light that has come to define their oeuvres. Cassis is a perfect harmony of light and colour. The joy, freedom and celebration of culture and scenery that every world traveler experiences resonates in the painting's imagery and style.
Cassis, South France is an undated work most likely painted around 1912-13. It is a wonderfully evocative landscape that encapsulates the charming views of Cassis a coastal town famed for its rugged cliffs and sheltered inlets. Phillips Fox faithfully depicts the scene before him. In the foreground of the painting is the small inlet populated by boats, the shoreline is bustling with people and in the distance the artist renders the village and undulating hills. Cassis a late career painting is a celebration of colour and light in keeping with Impressionist aesthetic sensibilities. There is an immediacy in the rendering of the brushstrokes that belies the meticulously technical approach that Phillips Fox is remembered for.
Phillips Fox is represented in the National Gallery of Australia, all State and various regional galleries, and the Louvre, Paris.
1. Violet Teague cited in Goddard, Angela, 'An Artistic Marriage', Art, Love & Life: Ethel Carrick and E. Phillips Fox [Exhib. Cat.], Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, p.20 2. E. Philips Fox letter quoted in Argus [Melbourne] June 1889, cited in Goddard, Angela, 'An Artistic Marriage', Art, Love & Life: Ethel Carrick and E. Phillips Fox [Exhib. Cat.], Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, p.17