Vintage Art Appreciation: The Ferry by Emanuel Phillips Fox

The Ferry, c1910
by Emanuel Phillips Fox (1865–1915)

About the artist: Emanuel Phillips Fox was an Australian impressionist painter. He was born on 12 March 1865 to the photographer Alexander Fox and Rosetta Phillips at 12 Victoria Parade in Fitzroy, Melbourne, into a family of lawyers whose firm, DLA Piper New Zealand still exists. He studied art at the National Gallery of Victoria Art School in Melbourne from 1878 until 1886 under G. F. Folingsby; his fellow students included John Longstaff, Frederick McCubbin, David Davies and Rupert Bunny.

In 1886, he travelled to Paris and enrolled at the Académie Julian, where he gained first prize in his year for design, and École des Beaux-Arts (1887–1890), where his masters included William-Adolphe Bouguereau and Jean-Léon Gérôme, both among the most famous artists of the time. While at the Beaux Arts, he was awarded a first prize for painting. He was greatly influenced by the fashionable school of en plein air Impressionism.

About the painting:The Ferry is the artist’s masterpiece. It was developed from rapid sketches that Fox painted outdoors at Trouville, a favourite beach resort in the north of France, and was completed in his Paris studio the following winter. Fox positions the viewer as if peering down to the elegant boating party and immerses us in a sumptuous, genteel world of vibrant colours, luscious fabric textures and warm summer atmosphere.

Originally exhibited in Paris and London, The Ferry also influenced a younger generation of Australian modernist artists when it was exhibited in Sydney in 1913.

[1] Original image from Google Art Project
[2] Artist description
[3] Painting description