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Australian art

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Joie de vivre



Mary Webb

Australia, France

1901 - 11 Dec 1958


Mary Webb, who worked in Sydney and London in the 1940s in a figurative expressionist mode, travelled to Europe in 1949 and subsequently became a significant Australian abstractionist and collagist in Paris in the 1950s. Despite an active exhibition schedule in Paris, where her work attracted significant review, Webb maintained contact with Sydney constructivists Frank Hinder, Ralph Balson and Grace Crowley over this decade.

'Joie de vivre' was shown at Webb's solo exhibition at Galerie R Creuze in Paris, mounted only a month before her untimely death in December 1958. Webb's excursion into 'informel' abstraction in 'Joie de vivre', with its arresting sense of movement, pastel hues, and soft-edged cloud-like forms, represents the artist's most significant painterly achievement, and a singular contribution to Australian abstraction. This recent acquisition, newly rediscovered after over four decades in storage in Paris, is the most important of all currently known works by Webb.




Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


130.0 x 96.8 cm stretcher; 132.2 x 99.3 x 2.4 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. corner, red oil "Webb/ '58".


Purchased 2011


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Mary Webb

Works in the collection


Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 6 publications


A.D.S. Donaldson, Mary Webb: our last unknown artist, Sydney, 2008.

Galerie Raymond Creuze, Mary Webb: œuvres récentes, Paris, 1958. 1; titled 'Joie de Vivre'

S J Lombard, Bulletin de la Galerie Raymond Creuze VII, '[Mary Webb]', pg. 346-349, Paris, (1958), 349 (illus.).

Michel Seuphor, Dictionnaire de la peinture abstraite: prédécé d'une histoire de la peinture abstraite, 'Webb', pg. 287, Paris, 1957, 287.

Ann Stephen, Modernism & Australia: documents on art, design and architecture 1917-1967, Melbourne, 2006.

Wayne Tunnicliffe and Deborah Edwards, Look, ‘New Australia’, pg. 24-27, Sydney, May 2012, 26, (colour illus.).