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Australian art

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Reclining nude



George Bell


01 Dec 1878 - 22 Oct 1966


"Modern art aims not to create illusions of reality but to animate surfaces without destroying them ... Art went down the hill from the death of Raphael to the birth of Cézanne ... Nature is alright as far as she goes. It is the artist's task to go further ... Light and shade are evanescent. Form is eternal. It is therefore significant form that must be looked for in a work of art".
George Bell, 1939

George Bell is widely regarded as the most influential force in the development of the modern movement in Melbourne during the 1930s. With Arnold Shore, he established the Bell-Shore school in 1932, where they taught the principles and practice of modern art. Bell had been prompted by developments in Europe to question his approach to painting and during an extended visit there in 1934-35 he studied drawing with Iain McNab in London, associated with artists in the New English Art Club and became interested in the writings and theories of Clive Bell and Roger Fry, English champions of Cézanne and Post-Impressionism.

He reconstructed his approach to both his own work and to his teaching according to these new principles and was an important influence on many artists including Russell Drysdale, Sali Herman and other subsequently well-known and distinguished painters.

Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2001




Media category


Materials used

oil on cardboard on wood


43.1 x 55.5 cm board; 57.9 x 70.6 x 4.0 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. corner, pencil "George Bell ´37".


Purchased 1983


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

George Bell

Works in the collection


Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 4 publications


Renée Free, Modernism 1900-1950: prints and drawings from the collection, Sydney, 1994.

Barry Pearce, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian', pg. 13-35, Sydney, 1988, 24.

Barry Pearce, Art and Australia, 'Recent Australian acquisitions with notes on Charles Conder's Algerian convalescence', pg. 57-62, Sydney, Spring 1984, 62 (colour illus.).

Donald Richardson, Art & Design in Australia, South Yarra, 1995, 15, 60, 80, 83, 137, 140, 145, 163, 243.. PS Worksheet 248