100 Highlights from the Cbus Collection of Australian Art
27 July 2022


(1939 - 1978)

conte pencil and synthetic polymer paint on paper

72.5 x 66.5 cm (sheet)

signed lower left: George Baldessin

$20,000 – $30,000
Sold for $79,773 (inc. BP) in Auction 70 - 27 July 2022, Melbourne

Possibly: Rudy Komon Gallery, Sydney
Private collection
Leonard Joel, Melbourne, 31 July 1990, lot 58
Joseph Brown Gallery, Melbourne, acquired from the above
The Cbus Collection of Australian Art, Melbourne, acquired from the above on 2 August 1990


Possibly: George Baldessin, Rudy Komon Gallery, Sydney, 20 August – 14 September 1977
Possibly: Creative Power: The Art of George Baldessin, Newcastle Region Art Gallery, New South Wales, 2012 (label attached verso)
Figures & Landscapes: Curated works from The Cbus Collection of Australian Art and the Latrobe Regional Gallery Permanent Collection, Latrobe Regional Gallery, Victoria, 16 December 2017 - 11 March 2018
on long term loan to Latrobe Regional Gallery, Victoria


Nainby, B., Stanhope, Z., and Furlonger, K., The Cbus Collection of Australian Art, in association with Latrobe Regional Gallery, Melbourne, 2009, pp. 19, 123 (illus.), 212

Catalogue text

Despite only having an exhibiting career of just 14 short years – from the time of his first solo exhibition at Melbourne’s Argus Gallery in 1964 to his death in a car accident in 1978, George Baldessin’s work endures, continuing to resonate with audiences who have been able to experience his practice in a variety of new exhibition contexts and through new research.1 Baldessin’s work remains fresh and contemporary, and the highly personal and interconnected iconography of his printmaking, drawings and sculpture have ensured that he now holds an established position in the history of recent Australian art.

Baldessin began attending the Lacourière lithographic printworks three days a week in 1976 while he was living abroad in Paris, and it was during his time at this studio that he commenced his iconic MM of Rue St Denis charcoal drawings (1975 – 76). These combined his interest in medieval images of the Mary Magdalene with the contemporary scenes of prostitutes he was witnessing on the city’s streets.2 Baldessin made Girl in Striped Dress with Bouquet of Flowers, c. 1977 around the time he returned to Australia in 1977, and the work’s unidentified subject shares much with his depictions of the Mary Magdalene. As the artist said of his MM drawings: ‘…I’m always trying to work out ways to animate the figure, that is fragmenting, breaking it up in some way and I always look for a real way, an existing way. I don’t want to impose formal ways of fragmenting the forms in the way that the cubists would or the expressionists and so on. I would always look for a natural way of fragmenting the forms of the figure and at the same time bringing the notion of the Madeleine to life.’3

With her somewhat awkward pose and crossed arms, and her voluptuous form evident through her sheer striped dress, Baldessin’s subject is an intriguing and complex embodiment of her own sexual freedom and the objectification of male desire. While she is seemingly offered up to the viewer for our consumption and delight, her direct and forthright gaze leaves us in no doubt of her agency. She understands what the game is here, and she is knowingly playing her part. The image’s shallow depth of field also reveals the importance of printmaking to Baldessin, and the way in which elements of his chosen mediums coalesced and informed each work regardless of how they were made. The woman seems to float above the picture plane, her form offset by the work’s deep black background, which in turn recalls the inky blackness of the artist’s earlier etchings, with their ‘flattened, ambiguous space and tilted ground.’4

1. The most recent of these was the National Gallery of Victoria’s 2018 exhibition Baldessin / Whiteley: Parallel Visions; see Grishin, S., Baldessin/Whiteley Parallel Visions, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2018
2. Lindsay, R. & Holloway, M.J., George Baldessin: Sculpture and Etchings, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1983, p. 21
3. Grishin, op. cit, p. 112
4. Cross, E., ‘George Baldessin 1939 – 1978’ in George Baldessin Prints 1963 – 1978, Australian Galleries, Melbourne, 1997, p. 16