Painter and etcher Mortimer Menpes was born in Port Adelaide, South Australia in 1855. Menpes studied art at the School of Design, Adelaide. He went to London at the age of 19 and became a pupil and close friend of artist James McNeill Whistler, who was a central figure of the English Aesthetic Movement, which flourished in late Victorian and Edwardian eras. Menpes died in London in 1938.
Menpes became interested in Japanese art and design and made two extensive trips to Japan; his second visit in 1897, when he painted numerous portraits of children, geisha’s and archers in ceremonial garments. Menpes’ application of gouache and watercolour is influenced by Japanese techniques.
- An inveterate traveller he held more one-man exhibitions in London than any other painter of his day.
Back in March 2015, there was an exhibition of Menpes’ work “An Artist’s Utopia: Mortimer Menpes in Japan” at the Grainger Museum at the University of Melbourne. The exhibition included works lent from the Art Gallery of South Australia and private collections.
- The Archer (c 1897) watercolour and gouache. The frame was made according to Menpes’ specifications and features a Japanese chrysanthemum motif in the corners. Now part of the National Gallery of Victoria- Australia collection.
- The Shamisen Player (details) oil on board 11x15cm and Waiting for the Rickshaw.
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