A vase of flowers c. 1940
oil on canvas
JH McPhillimy Bequest Fund, 1944
Norah Heysen’s artistic talent was evident from an early age, with galleries across Australia purchasing paintings she created whilst still a student at Adelaide’s School of Fine Arts. During the 1920s and ’30s she studied in London, Paris and Italy, and in 1937 she returned to Australia having developed a painting practice that blended international artistic influences with her own interests in the still life genre.
This vibrant painting bears the hallmarks of Heysen’s artistic approach: the particular texture, form and colour of each flower articulated with precision. Her command of capturing ephemeral effects of light is exemplified by the myriad of short brushstrokes applied to the background of this work and the shifting, impressionistic colour field it creates, as well as the close attention paid to the reflections that play across the surface of the transparent glass vase.