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Collection

An image of Sarah Bernhardt by Bertram Mackennal

Bertram Mackennal

(Australia, England, France 12 Jun 1863 – 10 Oct 1931)

Title
Sarah Bernhardt
Year
(circa 1892-circa 1893)
Media category
Sculpture
Materials used
bronze relief
Dimensions

43.2 x 40.6 x 2.2 cm

Signature & date
Signed l.l. corner, incised "Bertram Mackennal". Not dated
Credit
Bequest of Mrs J.R. McGregor 1944
Accession number
7432
Location
19th c Australian art
Further information

After six years studying sculpture in Paris and London, Mackennal returned to Australia in 1888 to execute two commissions. He became the centre of controversy in Melbourne over the worthiness of his entry in a competition for a major bronze figure group to be placed outside the National Gallery of Victoria. Debate raged in the press and came to the attention of Sarah Bernhardt, then established as the world's greatest living actress. She recommended that Mackennal return to Paris as "he is buried alive here". Mackennal was to become good friends with Bernhardt, who toured Australia in 1891, and taking her advice he returned to Paris, where he completed her relief portrait in bronze.

Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2000

Bibliography (18)

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Sydney, 1972, 88 (colour illus.).

Deborah Edwards, Presence & absence: portrait sculpture in Australia, Canberra, 2003, 42, 44 (colour illus.), 46, 82. cat.no. 50

Deborah Edwards., Australian sculpture 1890-1919, 'Australian sculpture 1890-1919', Sydney, 1987. no catalogue numbers

Deborah Edwards, Bertram Mackennal: Catalogue raisonné, Sydney, 2007, (colour illus.). Artworks: Sculpture: 1890s

Leonard Forrer, Biographical dictionary of medallists: coin, gem, and seal-engravers, mint-masters, &c., ancient and modern, with references to their works B.C. 500-A.D, London, 1907, 524.

Corille Fraser, Come to Dazzle - Sarah Bernhardt's Australian Tour, Strawberry Hills, 1998, 138, 340 (illus.).

Peter Haynes (Compilator), Famous people: a selective who's who from works in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1981, 2 (illus.).

International Society of Scupltors, Painters and Gravers, A catalogue of the pictures & sculpture in the seventh exhibition of the International Society of Sculptors, Painters & Gravers., London, 1907. cat.no. 273

Lionel Lindsay, 150 years of Australian art, Sydney, 1938. cat.no. 172

Meri Machin-Roberts, Bertram Mackennal: the fifth Balnaves Foundation Sculpture Project, 'Portraits of contrived publicity: Betram Mackennal's commissions from Sarah Bernhardt', pg. 164-167, Sydney, 2007, 52, 54, 110, 164 (colour illus., detail), 165 (colour illus.).

Macquarie Galleries, Exhibition of bronzes by Sir Bertram Mackennal K.C.V.O, Sydney, 1926. cat.no. 38; titled 'Relief - Sara [sic] Bernhardt'; priced NFS

Denise Mimmocchi, Australian Symbolism: the art of dreams, ‘Sarah Bernhardt: the ‘serpent of the old Nile’’, pg. 35-40, Sydney, 2012, 38, 39 (colour illus.).

Barry Pearce, Art Gallery of New South Wales Handbook, 'Australian', pg. 13-35, Sydney, 1988, 23 (illus.).

Ursula Prunster, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Home and abroad', pg. 73-74, Sydney, 2000, 90 (colour illus.), 301.

Ken Scarlett, Australian Sculptors, Melbourne, 1980, 404 (illus.).

Daniel Thomas, Art and Australia [vol. 10, no. 1], 'Australian collection', pg. 52-62, Sydney, Jul 1972, 60 (illus.).

Editor Unknown (Editor), 1890s: aspects of the gallery, 'The influence of Sarah Bernhardt's Australian Tour', Sydney, 1986, (illus.).

Australian icons: twenty artists from the collection, Sydney, 2000.

Exhibition history (7)

Twenty-fourth exhibition of the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, International Society of Scupltors, Painters and Gravers, Jan 1907–Mar 1907

Exhibition of bronzes by Sir Bertram Mackennal K.C.V.O, Macquarie Galleries, Sydney, 07 Oct 1926–20 Oct 1926

Early Australian scupture: from its beginnings up to circa 1920, Art Gallery of Ballarat, Ballarat, 15 Mar 1977

Australian sculpture 1890-1919, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 22 Jan 1987–22 Feb 1987

Australian icons: twenty artists from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Aug 2000–03 Dec 2000

Presence and absence: portrait sculpture in Australia, National Portrait Gallery [Old Parliament House], Canberra, 22 Aug 2003–16 Nov 2003

Bertram Mackennal: