Important Australian + International Fine Art
28 April 2010

Julian Rossi Ashton

(1851 - 1942)

oil on wood panel

89.0 x 25.0 cm

signed and dated lower right: JR Ashton / 95

$40,000 - 60,000
Sold for $45,600 (inc. BP) in Auction 14 - 28 April 2010, Melbourne

Private collection, New South Wales
Private collection, Sydney

Catalogue text

While stockmen toiled in the sun and shearers sweated in their sheds, ladies took their places in gentler landscapes, often given over to nocturnes and shaded glades. Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Charles Conder and Frederick McCubbin chose such places, evoking the feminine side of nature to add to their charms. Many were painted on cedar panels and included in the 9 by 5 Impression Exhibition of 1889. Conder's How We Lost Poor Flossie in the collection of the Art Gallery of South Australia, Roberts' Cream and Black, and Streeton's The Lovers' Walk are among the finest. Although the latter was painted on cardboard, Streeton liked cedar panels to work on as in Belinda (A Lady of the Period) 1894 in the Newcastle Region Art Gallery. In Julian Ashton's Young Woman with Parasol, paint was also applied directly onto the unprimed cedar panel, the warm colour and grain of the wood adding to the painting's overall attraction. In the 1890s, Roberts used such panels to paint a whole portrait gallery of actors, musicians, entrepreneurs, soldiers, journalists and fellow artists, as well as Ada Furlong, artist's model and photographer. Their similarity to Ashton's Young Woman with Parasol is striking, suggesting mutual influence.

Like Roberts' The Paris Hat, 1892, Ashton's young woman in Young Woman with Parasol is stylish, sophisticated, and modish of dress1 - qualities also found in his prized watercolour of his young wife, A Solitary Ramble, 1888, in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Informally posed, though full of grace and beauty, each hatted lady carries a parasol, most suitably attired for the society of the promenade. In keeping with the out-of-doors and the interests of aestheticism of his time, Ashton added a floral touch of Japonaiserie. One of the fruits in Young Woman with Parasol is a pomegranate, of much symbolic significance in Christian and pagan art. The dahlia in the other painting was very popular in the late nineteenth century. Ashton's fellow Australian Impressionists likewise added flowers to their works as happy decorative touches. Pink blossoms appear in both Conder's The Happy Days of Wooing, 1898, and Roberts' Portrait in the Garden, c.1896.

Ashton painted three additional related panels of the same period. Bertha, which is in the collection of the University of Queensland, Young Woman in Blue with Parasol, formerly in the Ian Callinan Collection, Brisbane and The Green Gown. Attire and mood changed as day dress gave way to glamorous ball gowns. Nevertheless, taken from a lower viewpoint, the ladies all share an elevated position, providing an added touch of grandeur to their captivating images. Such beauty is further enhanced by presenting faces in profile, in our painting engagement being fulfilled by that occasional glance of the young lady.

1. The Paris Hat 1892, Howard Hinton Collection of the New England Regional Art Museum