From Hot Winds to Hayricks, its a Garden Idyll

[Mrs. Conder (Portrait of Stella)], [Garden Idyll (ca.1906) 65.2 cm x 75.5 cm], [Hot Wind (1881) oil on board 29 cm x 75 cm] and [Hayricks in Giverny oil on canvas].

English-born painter, lithographer and designer Charles Edward Conder was born in Tottenham, Middlesex, on 24 October 1868. He emigrated to Australia and was a key figure in the Heidelberg School, a distinctive Australian expressionist art movement.

With a fond interest in art, Conder left school at 15; due to his very religious, non-artistic father; who decided that the young Conder should follow in his footsteps, as a civil engineer. In 1884, at the age of 16, Charles Conder arrived in Sydney, Australia, where he worked for his uncle, a land surveyor for the New South Wales government. However he disliked this work, preferring to draw the landscape rather than survey it. By 1886, Conder became an artist for the “Illustrated Sydney News” and joined the Art Society of New South Wales.

Two years later Conder moved to Melbourne where he met Australian artists including Arthur Streeton, and Tom Roberts.  He was a fun-loving man who painted with an often humorous touch; and along with other painters such as Frederick McCubbin had been influenced by Whistler. Conder left Australia in 189o and spent the rest of his life in Europe, mainly England, but visiting France on many occasions. He became fully involved with Aestheticism and mixed with leading artists and writers of the day including Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley.

Conder continued to paint, but his output was severely affected by continual poor health, including paralysis and a bout of delirium tremens. Thus, his later works are not as critically well regarded as his earlier Australian paintings. He married a wealthy widow, Stella Maris Belford at The British Embassy in Paris on 05 December, 1901, providing him with financial security.

    • He spent the last year of his life in a sanatorium and died on 09 February, 1909 in Holloway Sanatorium of “general paresis of the insane” (tertiary syphilis).
    • Satirist Barry Humphries is a major aficionado and collector of the artist; and at one time had the world’s largest private collection of Conder’s work.

Clearly a Conder fonder from near yonder!

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