ON THE SANDS, c.1913

Important Fine Art + Indigenous Art
18 April 2018


(1872 – 1952)
ON THE SANDS, c.1913

oil on plywood panel

27.0 x 35.0 cm

signed lower right: CARRICK
bears inscription verso: On the Sands / Ethel Carrick / (Mrs E Phillips Fox)

$150,000 – 200,000

Joseph Prieur, France
Thence by descent
Richard Prieur, Paris
Private collection, Sydney


Possibly: Exhibition of Oil Paintings by Mrs. E. Phillips Fox, Anthony Horderns’ Fine Art Gallery, Sydney, April 1916, cat. 15

Catalogue text

When Ethel Carrick visited Sydney in 1913, some of her best works were inspired by Manly. Her husband, Emanuel Phillips Fox had been delayed in Melbourne by a request from the Historic Memorials Commission to paint the portrait of Prime Minister Andrew Fisher. Carrick busied herself painting the Harbour and other Sydney scenes, before Fox arrived in mid-September to follow suit. It was springtime and Sydney was sparkling, judging by the views they painted. Carrick’s November solo show at Anthony Hordern’s Fine Art Gallery featured Corner of Circular Quay, On Balmoral Beach, Off Cremorne Point and twelve Notes on Sydney Harbor. They inspired the Sydney Morning Herald art critic to write of Carrick and her paintings in terms of ‘joyous vivacity’, delighting in ‘a prominence of light and colour’. ‘Painting after painting [he added] display an almost child-like love for light, movement, the interplay of brilliant hues’.1 As evidenced by the sunlit atmosphere and feeling of freedom, Carrick and Fox loved the beaches of Sydney, possibly even more than those of the fashionable French resorts of Trouville and Saint-Malô.

One special outcome of Carrick’s Sydney visit was her painting Manly Beach – Summer is Here, 1913. Wisely kept as a favourite, she took it back to France with her and when later, the painting won ‘the diploma of honour at an international exhibition at Bordeaux’.2 (French audiences were not entirely unfamiliar with such Australian views. In 1910 Carrick had shown The Quay, Milson’s Point, Sydney, translated as ‘Sur la plage’, in Paris in the Salon d’Automne.) On loan to the Manly Art Gallery and Museum, Carrick eventually gave Manly Beach – Summer is Here to the lucky gallery in 1934. Our painting, On the Sands, c.1913, is closely related in subject, freedom of handling and palette. Here, at Manly, they share play of light and shade, overall feel of movement, and that pleasantly casual air which characterises Australians at play. Even the Manly beach chairs are more relaxed than those so upright in the French scenes.

One recalls the remarks of The Age critic writing about Carrick’s Melbourne exhibition of July 1913: ‘She delights in colour and light … in the movement of holiday crowds at the seaside, and in the parks’.3 In On the Sands, even the breaking waves join in the overall feeling of activity, generated so much through the play of light. Red-and-white striped beach tents, characteristic of the French seaside resorts are gone; and no men are present. In 1913 there were still restrictions on mixed bathing in Australia! Finally, Carrick adds the feeling of a refreshing sea breeze blowing through the summer heat and turns all into a captivating work of art.

In Australia, the beach has long provided a way of life, so it is not surprising that this French nineteenth century fashion was readily embraced here both for pleasure and art. Carrick and Fox enjoyed a special role in the latter – an English and an Australian artist living in Paris, and painting on the best of French, Melbourne and Sydney beaches. Their light-filled Australian paintings are among the most colourful and best – major compositions, or moments of almost casual indulgence, intimate in size for easy sharing with their viewers, as in our painting.

1. ‘Impressionism’, Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, 7 November 1913, p. 7
2. The Argus, Melbourne, 23 October 1939, p. 7
3. ‘Mrs. E. Phillips Fox’s Pictures’, Age, Melbourne, 11 July 1913, p. 9



The Beach, Manly, c.1910 Cave & Hurley Postcard