Australian artist Max Middleton enjoyed a long and highly acclaimed career as a professional artist, exhibiting in 68 exhibitions over 66 years. Born in Melbourne in 1922, Middleton knew he wanted to be an artist from the age of 12. At 16 he started lessons in drawing at the National Gallery School, and practiced his oil painting technique on Sunday’s when his father drove him to the country to paint en plein air (French: meaning the practice of painting entire finished pictures out of doors).
Middleton studied privately with Harold Septimus Power from 1940, whom greatly influenced his early paintings with the use of broad brush strokes and patterns of light and shade. In 1950, Middleton travelled to Europe to see the major museums and trained from 1950-1953 at Heatherley’s School in London and in Florence at the Scala di Bellearti (School of Fine Art). In Europe, his key influences were JMW Turner and Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida, both en plein air painters of the transformative effects of light.
From there on, Middleton painted in the flourishing art community of Cornwall as well as in Wales, Ireland, France and Spain. It was in regional Spain that he chose to paint the people of the area, and from thereon, the human figure began to feature in his paintings.
Middleton returned to Australia in 1953, excited to once again be painting landscape in the unique Australian light. From 1959 and for the most of his career, Middleton and his family lived in the Dandenong Ranges, outside of Melbourne, where he painted extensively in the Sherbrooke Forest.
- By 1988, Middleton began painting nudes, which became his inspiration throughout the final years of his career.
- Ill health forced him to retire from painting in 2010.
- He died in 2013 died at the age of 90.
His works can be found at various Australian collections including:
Queensland Art Gallery, Bendigo Regional Art Gallery, Benalla Regional Art Gallery, and the Castlemaine Regional Art Gallery.
- Discover more about Max Middleton at this website.
“Is It Art?”