Important Australian + International Fine Art
16 April 2008

Bessie Davidson

(1879 - 1965)

oil on plywood

124.5 x 104.5 cm

signed lower right: Bessie Davidson
inscribed verso on label: Davidson [Bessie] / "Interieur"...

$120,000 - 160,000
Sold for $156,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 4 - 16 April 2008, Melbourne

Acquired from Osborne Gallery, Adelaide, 1967
Private collection, Adelaide
Thence by descent, private collection, Melbourne


Bessie Davidson, Osborne Art Gallery, Adelaide, 31 May – 13 June 1967, cat. 28

Catalogue text

Adelaide-born Bessie Davidson spent most of her creative life in Paris, absorbing the elegance and sophistication which we associate with the French capital and manifesting it in her art. It touches her landscapes, and especially the interiors and still life paintings in which she excels- Interior with Poppies being a classic example. Her excellence in this genre was, no doubt, influenced by her earlier association with Margaret Preston (then Rose McPherson), in whose studio she studied from 1899 to 1904. Together, they travelled abroad, Davidson continuing her studies at the Munich Künstlerinner Verein, and in Paris at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. Although Davidson returned to Adelaide in 1906 and taught for a number of years with Preston, her home became Paris where, from 1910 until her death, her studio was in Rue Boissonade, Montparnasse.

In 1914, at the beginning of World War I, she joined the French Red Cross and worked voluntarily as a nurse. Afterwards, her involvement in French life and art led to her being the first Australian woman to be elected to the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. She was also a founder-member of the Salon des Tuileries, and vice president of the Société Nationale des Femmes Artistes Modernes. Her contribution to French art and to the nation resulted in the 1931 award of Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur. She exhibited regularly in Paris and London, being included in the 1938 L'Exposition du Groupe Feminin at the Petit Palais and, the following year, in the exhibition of French art that toured the U.S.A. Internationally, she is represented in the Musée d'Art Moderne, Musée d'Orsay, and Musée du Petit Palais, Paris, as well as in collections in The Netherlands, Edinburgh, and Fife. Like her friend and fellow-Australian artist resident in Paris, Rupert Bunny, she never gave up her Australian citizenship.

The exhibition Bessie Davidson: Une Australienne en France, 1880-1965, was held at the Australian Embassy, Paris, May-July 1999.