Salon painting as a precept and as a practice had no more loyal adherent than Rupert Bunny. Born and educated in Melbourne, Bunny began a lifetime of European travel and residence in 1884. The success of his academic and essentially escapist project in Paris and London was real, complicit though it proved to be with the self-delusion of an age on the edge of war. Bunny's dedication to the good life resulted in some of the most sumptuous paintings in Australian art history, and the most admired. The artist's wife, kittenish herself, plays with a lapful of cats. Her companion accepts a basin of milk from a meaningfully shadowed maid. As upholstered in privilege as they are in their lacy day-gowns, Bunny's women are the late-picked fruit of a century whose heyday had passed. Despite his stylistic conservatism, the painter kept a finger on the pulse of taste. He responded to post-impressionism and fauvism, albeit belatedly, in a series of brilliantly coloured compositions on classical themes in the 1920s. During that decade, Bunny returned twice to Australia, settling permanently in 1933. Music, in which he had always had a parallel interest, became increasingly important to him: even so palpable a painting as 'A summer morning', with its plump depictions of fabric and flesh, has a musical ethereality.
Collection highlights tour A summer morning
Aprés la sieste
oil on canvas
222.0 x 181.5 cm stretcher; 246.3 x 205.7 x 13.0 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed l.r. corner, brown oil "Rupert C W Bunny". Not dated.
Where the work was made
Shown in 3 exhibitions
A retrospective exhibition of Australian painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Sep 1953–25 Oct 1953
Rupert Bunny: An Australian in Paris (1991-92):
- National Gallery of Victoria [St Kilda Road], Melbourne 24 Jul 1991–17 Oct 1991
- National Gallery of Australia, Parkes 09 Nov 1991–02 Feb 1992
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 05 Mar 1992–26 Apr 1992
Parallel Visions: Twenty-two artists from the Australian collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 22 Feb 2002–May 2003
Referenced in 16 publications
Christopher Allen, The Weekend Australian Review, 'What lies beneath? Rupert Bunny comes in for close scrutiny in a new survey exhibition', pg. 14-15, Canberra, 12 Dec 2009-13 Dec 2009, 14.
Edmund Capon, Art Gallery of New South Wales: highlights from the collection, Sydney, 2008, 64 (colour illus.), 65 (colour illus., detail).
Mary Eagle, Rupert Bunny: An Australian in Paris, Parkes, 1991, 8, 17, 8 (illus.).
Deborah Edwards, Look, 'Rupert Bunny: An exotic in the history of Australian art', pg. 28-32, Sydney, Nov 2009, 31, 32.
Deborah Edwards, Rupert Bunny: artist in Paris, 'From fin de siécle to belle époque', pg. 31-, Sydney, 2009, 8 (colour illus., detail), 9, 64, 70, 73, 85 (colour illus.), 158, 198 (colour illus.), 199, 204 (colour illus.). cat.no. 26
Anne Gérard, Look, 'Oz arts: Our painters in the Paris Salons', pg. 37-39, Sydney, Dec 2006-Jan 2007, 39.
Anne Gerard-Austin, Les Peintres Australiens Dans Les Salons Parisiens de 1886 a 1914, Sydney, Jun 2006, 104, 122, XCV (colour illus.).
Sarah Hetherington, The Australian art market report [first quarter], 'Catch this if you can: Highlights from this year's international arts calendar', pg. 14, Sydney, 2009, 12 (colour illus.). Advertising Rupert Bunny retrospective to be held at AGNSW 2009
Caroline Holmes, Impressionists in their gardens, 'Fur, fowl and flutter', pg. 142-153, Suffolk, 2012, 142 (colour illus., detail), 143 (colour illus.).
Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, Sydney, 1999, 129, 129 (colour illus.).
Jean-Claude Lesage, Peintres Australiens à Etaples, Etaples-sur-Mer, 2000, 116, 49 (illus.).
Desmond Macaulay and Bettina Macaulay, Singing in the heart: Music and the art of Rupert Bunny, 'The later belle époque', pg. 46-68, Queensland, 2007, 60.
Hal Missingham, A retrospective exhibition of Australian painting, Sydney, 1953. cat.no. 72
Barry Pearce, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2000, 87 (colour illus.).
Barry Pearce, Parallel visions: works from the Australian collection, Sydney, 2002, 15, 26, 22 (colour illus.).
David Thomas, Deutscher and Hackett fine art auction: Sydney 28 August 2013, 'Rupert Bunny', pg. 146-147, Melbourne, Aug 2013, 146.