THE YOUNG MODEL, 1941

Important Australian + International Fine Art
Melbourne
20 April 2011
42

CHARLES MEERE

(1890 - 1961)
THE YOUNG MODEL, 1941

oil on wood panel

56.0 x 32.0 cm

signed and dated lower right: CHARLES MEERE '41

inscribed with title on original label verso

Estimate: 
$25,000 - 35,000
Sold for $45,600 (inc. BP) in Auction 19 - 20 April 2011, Melbourne
Provenance

Deutscher~Menzies, Melbourne, 20 April 1998, lot 116
Kozminsky Galleries, Melbourne (label attached verso)
Goodmans Auctioneers, Sydney, 8 November 1999, lot 169
Private collection, Melbourne

Catalogue text

As a gifted painter of the human figure, Charles Meere is best known for his large, mural like painting Australian Beach Pattern 1940 in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Although more intimate in subject, The Young Model 1941 captures in the figure of the girl something of the feeling for monumentality found in the larger work. Neo-classicist in style, it shows Meere's superb craftsmanship and affinity with such artists of the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) as Christian Schad. This German art movement, which included cinema and photography, held sway in the twenties into the early thirties in opposition to Expressionism. It embraced the socially biting images of the Verists and the monumental classicism of the Magic Realists. Their concentration on realism is characterised by a smoothness that is static and cold. Something of this cool, sober imagery, as seen in Schad's Self Portrait 1927 in London's Tate Gallery, is found in the striking realism and posed immobility of Meere's Young Model.

London born, Meere studied design and mural painting at the Royal College of Art and later at Colarossi's in Paris, finally settling in Australia in 1932. Academic by training, he ignored modernism. In 1936 he began working part-time at the East Sydney Technical College, teaching anatomy, life drawing and composition. 'He advocated that both male and female models should be totally undressed and requested that male models remove their tights, which was not common practice at the time.'1 This credo is reflected in Young Model. Nevertheless, it was his friend and fellow teacher Herbert Badham who perceptively observed, 'He does not make actual transcripts from nature, nor does he depend on obvious emotional urges to express himself; rather does he take physical truths for his themes, reconstructing them to reveal afresh their basic form and structure.'2Young Model celebrates the ideal of youthful physical beauty set in a stillness and calm which is all pervasive. With a canvas turned to the wall and the model raised on a small platform, it also continues the much respected subject of the artist in his studio, a subject that over the centuries interested masters of the calibre of Rembrandt and Vermeer.

1. Harvey, E. A., quoted in Slutzkin, L., Charles Meere 1890-1961, S. H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney, 1987, p. 4
2. Badham, H., quoted ibid, p. 3

DAVID THOMAS