Fillette au Perroquet (Small girl with a parrot) 1913 also known as 'Sur le Balcon (on the balcony)' signed and dated 'Bessie Davidson / 1913' lower right oil on canvas 92.0 x 73.0cm (36 1/4 x 28 3/4in).
PROVENANCE Collection of the artist Thence by descent Drawing and Painting, Impressionist and Modern, Drouot Motaigne Paris, 27 November 1997, lot 38 Private collection, London
EXHIBITED Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux Arts, Grand Palais, Paris, 1914 Bessie Davidson 1880-1965, Paris, (organised by the 'Association des amis du peintre Bessie Davidson'), May 1995 Bessie Davidson, Paintings from Private Collections in France, Australian Embassy, Paris, France, 5 May - 23 July 1999
LITERATURE Arlette Ribadeau Dumas, Bessie Davidson 1880-1965, exh. cat., organised by the 'Association des amis du peintre Bessie Davidson', 1995 (illus. detail) Terry Ingram, 'At $230,000 Bessie's painted a rare bird', Australian Financial Review, 11 December 1997, p. 32 (illus.) Penelope Little, 'The beauty of common things: The rediscovery of Bessie Davidson', Art and Australia, 1999, vol. 36, no. 4, pp.481-3, p. 481 (illus.) Penelope Little, A Studio in Montparnasse, Bessie Davidson: An Australian Artist in Paris, Craftsman House, 2003, p. 176, pl. 11 (illus. and cover in situ) Sarah Thomas, 'Bessie in Paris', Australian Book Review, March 2004, p. 16 (illus. in situ)
The daughter of Scottish immigrants, Bessie Davidson was born in Adelaide in 1879. After rudimentary art training in Australia she left for Europe in 1904 with Rose Macpherson (who was later to be known as Margaret Preston) before becoming a pupil of René-Xavier Prinet at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. She returned to Australia in 1907 where she rented a studio with Preston for a period of three years and held regular exhibitions at the South Australian Society of Arts. However her circle of friends which she had made in the avant-garde community - including Maurice Denis, Jacques-Emile Blanche, Albert Besnard and Edmond Aman-Jean - drew her back to Paris where she would establish her career. Not only did she show regularly at the Salon during the inter-war period, in 1920 she became the first Australian woman to be elected an Associate of the Salon des Beaux Arts, Paris, and after 27 years of services to her adopted country in 1931 she was appointed Chevalier of the Legion of Honour.
'The approach in Fillette au perroquet, however, is a far more inttelectual one in its deliberate application of the flat planes and forceful contours of Gauguin and the Nabis, its reduced perspective and its strong contrasting of the verticals and horizontals of balcony railing, bird-cage and window shutters with the organic forms of plants, all combined with an exuberant, for Davidson totally new, use of impressionistic light.'1
1 Penelope Little, 'The beauty of common things', Art & Australia, 1999, vol. 36, no. 4, p. 483