THE BLUE SHUTTERS, c.1909 – 11

Important Fine Art and Aboriginal Art
30 November 2016


(1865 – 1915)
THE BLUE SHUTTERS, c.1909 – 11

oil on canvas

37.5 x 45.0 cm

signed lower left: E. Phillips. Fox.
bears inscription on stretcher verso: The Blue Shutters / By E Phillip Fox [sic] / Bought / 1913
bears inscription on stretcher verso: Mrs R[illleg.] Morrison

$ 60,000 – 80,000
Sold for $292,800 (inc. BP) in Auction 46 - 30 November 2016, Sydney

Athenaeum Hall, Melbourne, 1913
Private collection, Victoria
Thence by descent
Private collection, New South Wales


Catalogue of Pictures by E Phillips Fox, Athenaeum Hall, Melbourne, 17 June – 4 July 1913, cat. 49


‘Art Exhibitions: Mr. E. Phillips Fox’s Pictures’, Age, Melbourne, 17 June 1913, p. 8
‘Mr. Phillips Fox’s Exhibition’, Argus, Melbourne, 17 June 1931, p. 9
Zubans, R., E. Phillips Fox: His Life and Art, The Miegunyah Press, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1995, cat. 326, p. 225

Catalogue text

In mid-1913, Emanuel Phillips Fox offered the Australian public one of the most important solo exhibitions held during his lifetime. Opening in June at Melbourne’s Athenaeum, followed by The Royal Art Society, Sydney, in October, the seventy paintings on show included some of Fox’s finest and most famous works. Reverie, 1903, which is now in the Musée d’Orsay, Paris; The Arbor, 1910, acquired by the National Gallery of Victoria through the Felton Bequest in 1916; The Ferry, c.1910 – 11 which today continues to attract much favourable attention in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and as does Bathing Hour, c.1909 in the Queensland Art Gallery. This is to mention but a few in a catalogue that includes Lamplight, c.1911, The Terrace, c.1912, and many more. These masterly works had been shown variously in London’s Royal Academy, the Salon of the Société des Artistes Français, the Salon d’Automne, Paris and the International during the years 1904 to 1912. They were recognized as his best, the art critic for the Melbourne Argus noting their inclusion ‘so that Victorians will have the opportunity of appreciating the pictures which have won so much honour for their compatriot’.1 Significantly, it was the smaller works, particularly The Blue Shutters, c.1909 – 11, that caught his eye. He commented:

Leaving the larger works to their own attractions, many of the smaller landscapes claim attention, notably “The Blue Shutters,” a remarkable essay in pure sunlight, as brilliant as anything an Australian midsummer sun could accomplish.2

The writer for The Age responded in similar vein:

The little landscapes are strong in their effects of the sun’s heat and glitter, with a sense of the all-enveloping atmosphere, which harmonises all things in nature, even at her most garish moments of midday brilliancy. Such examples as Market Day, The Square, Street Scene, All In Bou Saada, The Blue Shutters, The Colonnade, Granada and La Tonnelle, are a few of the delightfully spontaneous records of effects seen and rapidly noted. 3

While it is not surprising that The Blue Shutters was acquired direct from the Melbourne exhibition by a discerning collector, it is remarkable that it has remained outside public view until now. Its quality ensures a welcome return. Although the exact location of The Blue Shutters is uncertain, one suggestion is Cassis where Fox’s friend Rupert Bunny painted in 1931. The brilliant colour and light is evocative of those French towns on the Côte d’Azur, Sanary and Le Brusc. Several such sparkling landscapes as The Coast at Le Brusc and Towards Sanary, France were in Fox’s 1913 exhibition. There were also many sunny canvases of Spain and Morocco. In all these, and especially The Blue Shutters, the enveloping and transforming atmosphere combined with the sense of immediacy and freedom with which the paint has been applied still captures the eye today, providing an experience that is immensely engaging .

1. ‘Mr. Phillips Fox’s Exhibition’, Argus, Melbourne, 17 June 1931, p. 9
2. Ibid.
3. ‘Art Exhibitions. Mr. E. Phillips Fox’s Pictures’, Age, Melbourne, 17 June 1913, p. 8