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Flower Men: The Australian Canon and Flower Painting 1910-1935

Author(s): Ann Elias

Journal: EMAJ : Electronic Melbourne Art Journal
ISSN 1835-6656

Issue: 3;
Date: 2008;
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Keywords: Flower painting | Australian Art | Art and Gender | Art History

Historical studies of Hans Heysen, George Lambert, Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton concentrate on paintings of landscape and people. Less well known are their paintings of flowers, which take the form of still-life painting or adjuncts to figure painting, such as portraits. While these artists are famous for the masculine way they approached masculine themes, and flower painting represents a stereotypically feminine subject, I argue that by making flowers their object of study, they intended to define and differentiate femininity from masculinity in an era of the ‘New Woman’. Sex and gender are central to the subject of flower painting and are important for discussions about the work produced by all four men, although sex is often camouflaged behind the innocence of naturalistically painted flowers.
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