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Australian art

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The awakening

circa 1895


Charles Conder

England, Australia

24 Oct 1868 - 09 Feb 1909


Charles Conder returned to England, the country of his birth, in 1890, having established himself as one of the founders of the Heidelberg School of Australian impressionist painting. In England and in France, he was regarded as a member of the fin de siecle bohemian set, including among his intimates Oscar Wilde, Aubrey Beardsley and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec.

In his late work Conder favoured a romantic aestheticism, earning most fame for his decorative watercolours on silk. As with a number of other late 19th-century artists in France, Conder created a number of fan designs on silk between 1893 and 1905, inspired by contemporary literature and referencing 18th century imagery, utilising a deliberately pale palette to suggest age. Some fans were mounted but others, like this one, were not.

© Australian Art Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2004


Other Title

The awakening: Study for a fan


circa 1895

Media category


Materials used

pencil, watercolour, gold paint, white highlights on silk fan


14.2 x 42.2 cm silk (irreg.)

Signature & date

Signed l.l., gold paint "CONDER.". Not dated.


Purchased 1974


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Charles Conder

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 6 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 12 publications


Jean Campbell, Australian watercolour painters: 1780 to the present day, 'The 1880s and 1890s: Victoria and New South Wales', pg. 62-81, Sydney, 1989, 67 (colour illus.).

Bonny Cassidy., Tertangala, 'Charles Conder: a retrospective 1868-1909', Wollongong, Aug 2003. Exhibition review.

Renée Free, Fin de Siècle, Sydney, Jan 1994.

Ann Galbally, Charles Conder 1868-1909, 'Fans', pg. 159-161, Sydney, 2003, 167 (colour illus.), 195. 85

Ann Galbally, Craft arts international, 'Charles Conder 1868-1909', pg. 81-83, Sydney, 2003, 81 (colour illus.).

Hendrik Kolenberg, Australian watercolours 1880s to 1990s, Sydney, 1995, 26 (colour illus.), 115. 11

Hendrik Kolenberg, Nineteenth century Australian watercolours from the collection, Sydney, 1991. not paginated, 17

John McDonald, Art of Australia. Vol 1: Exploration to Federation, ‘Individual and national feeling’, pg. 545-610, Sydney, 2008, 553-554. NOTE: General reference to Conder's fans.

Pamela Gerrish Nunn, Journal of design history (vol. 17, no. 3), 'Fine art and the fan 1860-1930', pg. 251-266, Oxford, 2004, 259 (illus.). figure no. 6

Public Programmes Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'K' is for Conder: Charles Conder retrospective, Sydney, 2003, (illus.). not paginated

Vivienne Webb, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Golden age', pg. 37-38, Sydney, 2000, 54 (colour illus.), 300.

Author Unknown, Paintings and drawings from Agnew's London, Sydney, Oct 1974. 38