Twenty Classics of Australian Art
11 November 2020


(1872 – 1952)

oil on canvas

49.5 x 60.0 cm

signed lower left: CARRICK FOX
artist’s label attached verso with title

$40,000 – 60,000
Sold for $34,364 (inc. BP) in Auction 62 - 11 November 2020, Melbourne

Private collection, Melbourne, acquired in the 1950s
Thence by descent
Private collection, Melbourne


Ethel Carrick, Everyman’s Lending Library, Melbourne, 24 May – 7 June 1933, cat. 6
Exhibition of Paintings by The Late E. Phillips Fox and Ethel Carrick, Athenaeum Art Gallery, Melbourne, 27 February – 10 March 1934, cat. 60 (as ‘The Fish Market, Nice’)
Pictures by the Late E. Phillips Fox and E. Carrick Fox, Athenaeum Gallery, Melbourne, 28 April – 8 May 1942, cat. 34 (as ‘A Fish Market in Nice’)
Ethel Carrick and E. Phillips Fox, Macquarie Galleries, Sydney, 14 – 26 March 1945, cat. 6 (as ‘Fish Market’)

Catalogue text

Describing Ethel Carrick’s 1933 solo exhibition at Everyman’s Lending Library in Collins Street, Melbourne, the Age newspaper critic noted, ‘The oil paintings … treat chiefly of picturesque French market places and bridges, together with a number of flower studies. In most of these pictures the obvious aim of the artist has been to express the aesthetic essence of her subject in pattern and color harmonies, rather than by direct representation of its individual elements, and having chosen this path she has followed it faithfully and with a considerable measure of success’.1

The market place had long been a favoured subject in Carrick’s oeuvre and a survey of the paintings and prints included in the Melbourne exhibition highlights this – with flower markets in Paris, Ghent and Nice depicted alongside other market scenes in the Italian town of Merano and Pollensa in Spain. Carrick’s art reflects the breadth of her travels, but it is her images of life in the environs of Paris and regions further afield in France for which she is best known. English-born, Carrick studied at the Slade School in London from the late 1890s, and met the Australian artist E. Phillips Fox at the seaside town of St Ives in 1901, marrying him four years later. The couple settled in Paris, living in Montparnasse near the Luxembourg Gardens, where they were part of a circle of expatriate artists who exhibited regularly and found rich inspiration for their art in and around the French capital.

Located on the Mediterranean coast in the south of France, close to Monaco and the Italian border, Nice was a popular destination and featured in Carrick’s art during the 1920s. In paintings including The Fruit Market, Nice c.1923 (Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth) and Flower Market, Nice c.1926 (Art Gallery of New South Wales), she relishes the pictorial variations her subjects afford – the bright colours and varied forms of the flowers and produce on display, and the diverse details of contemporary clothing. Her interest in the effects of light is also evident, from the dappled shadows of the trees which shade the flower stalls, to the bright sunlight that plays across the white umbrellas of the fruit market.

Carrick’s later view of the Nice fish market shows a similar focus, as the late afternoon sun, high in the sky, illuminates pink and white facades of stone buildings within the square, as well as others which are seen through the tall archway in the distance. The more subdued colouring of this work suggests an autumn or early winter scene, timing corroborated by the coats and hats worn by the mostly female shoppers, their modern style adding weight to a circa 1930 date. While this canvas is bigger than the panels Carrick typically used when painting outdoors directly from the subject, the application of paint is lively, combining confident painterly expression with attention to detail that conveys both the activity and atmosphere of the busy market place.

1. The Age, Melbourne, 24 May 1933, p. 10