We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.

Maximilian Feuerring Self-portrait

gouache and oil on paper on paperboard

61 x 51 cm

Before he arrived in Australia, Maximilian Feuerring (1896–1973) was an established artist in Poland. He had studied at the Royal Academy in Rome and later in Paris, exhibited successfully and taught at the Jewish Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. Feuerring was a soldier in World War I and in the war between Russia and Poland, and when World War II began he immediately joined the army. He was interned in several prisoner-of-war camps, including Murnau in Germany, where, upon his release, he met Gabriele Münter of the Blue Rider Group.

After the war, Feuerring found himself without home or family (most of them had died in concentration camps) and in 1950 he migrated to Australia, aged 54. The response to his work in his new country was negative or indifferent, which frustrated Feuerring, but he was sustained by his friendships with other émigré artists – including Judy Cassab and Louis Kahan (both eventually Archibald Prize winners). Feuerring also supported himself as a stage designer, restorer and teacher.

This self-portrait – suggestive of French painter Pierre Bonnard, whose work Feuerring admired – was his first Archibald entry. All 11 of Feuerring’s Archibald works were self-portraits and demonstrate his highly individual and experimental approach to both style and technique.