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


(1894 - 1968)

oil on cardboard

53.5 x 63.5 cm

signed lower right: R de Maistre
bears inscription on label verso: 4 

$30,000 – $40,000
Sold for $42,955 (inc. BP) in Auction 70 - 27 July 2022, Melbourne

Private collection 
Sotheby’s, Melbourne, 22 April 1991, lot 315 (as ‘Still Life, Green Grey’)
Joseph Brown Gallery, Melbourne 
The Cbus Collection of Australian Art, Melbourne, acquired from the above on 29 April 1991


Roy de Maistre: A Retrospective exhibition of paintings and drawings 1917-1960, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, May – June 1960, cat. 89 
One, Two, See: Maths in a Visual World, Wollongong City Gallery, New South Wales, 2003
on long term loan to Wollongong City Gallery, New South Wales 


Nainby, B., Stanhope, Z., and Furlonger, K., The Cbus Collection of Australian Art, in association with Latrobe Regional Gallery, Melbourne, 2009, pp. 19, 81 (illus.), 217 

Catalogue text

Roy de Maistre moved into his London studio at 13 Ecclestone Street, Belgravia in 1937 and began creating a private domain likened by some to Aladdin’s cave. Situated on the top floor of a three-storey building, the long wide room was also part of the artist’s living quarters, dominated by a sofa made by Francis Bacon in 1929, and with windows covered by muslin casting a diffused light throughout. Paintings from all stages of his career occupied walls and easels, or leant in profusion against the walls, and a fascinating array of treasures and curios were displayed carefully on shelves and tables. Inevitably, many of these objects became components within his increasingly complex still-lifes, particularly those from the 1950s, all distinguished by de Maistre’s idiosyncratic form of decorative cubism.

Still life study in grey green, 1952 features a distinctive two-sphered glass lamp from his collection which appears in at least five other paintings from the decade including The lace maker’s lamp, c.1953 (Scottish National Gallery) and Studio table, c.1955 (Art Gallery of Western Australia). As the title implies, Still life study in grey green is one of a sequence of paintings that begins with the relatively straightforward Still life with quinces, c.1953 (private collection, and currently dated c.1953), and culminating with the ghostly Still life, grey - green, 1952 (private collection). Painted towards the end of the year when quinces appear at market, the first work features the bowl of the fruit augmented by a pipe and darning ‘mushroom’ set in front of a faux chest of drawers crafted by de Maistre from cardboard and painted with a cross hatched pattern.1 In Still life study in grey green, the quinces remain but the other objects have been replaced with the lacemaker’s lamp. Always drawn to design and technical challenges, de Maistre focusses on the myriad reflections within the spheres then contrasts that complexity with a simplified, leaf-like variant of the original decoration on the faux drawers. Amidst the otherwise muted grey-green palette, the quinces’ vibrant yellow is repeated within the lamp, and is also used to highlight the angled objects to the left, whilst the artist’s pronounced brushwork further animates the painting’s directional forces.

1. Johnson, H., Roy de Maistre: the English years, Craftsman House, Sydney, 1995, p. 169