J. Henry Steiner was a very prolific silversmith. He exhibited at many of the great 19th century exhibitions across the world. Despite being born and trained in Germany, Henry Steiner was an ace silversmith in Adelaide who displayed his foremost creations at many inter-colonial and international exhibitions. In around 1875, Steiner created one of his most spectacular art and functional pieces, a perfume-bottle holder that incorporated the shape of an emu egg. In 1880, the silver epergne which was made in his workshop became Australia’s largest known centrepiece. Today, the centrepiece has now been confirmed as being originally made for Australia’s first international exhibition held in Sydney in 1879 where it occupied part of Steiner’s exceedingly beautiful display.
Salvador Dali has been more known for his paintings, but he was also a sculptor, filmmaker and writer. Dali experimented with Impressionism and Pointillism when he attended the Fine Arts School in Madrid. On his visit to Picasso’s studio in Paris, Dali was inspired by Cubism. He also became interested in Futurism, as well as studying Freud’s psychoanalytic concepts. Dali explored these concepts and worked to find a way to alter perception and vividly reinterpret reality. His works would feature the strangest of subjects and emotionally charged themes. With his larger-than-life personality and artistic versatility, Dali was among the most famous and prolific artists of the 20th century.
Joachim Matthias Wendt was a silversmith and watchmaker. He migrated to Adelaide in 1854. His business flourished and within a short time, he had established himself as a watchmaker in Pirie Street. Wendt soon became a well-known watchmaker, gold and silver smith and jeweller. Wendt’s silverwork included extravagant naturalistic creations, stylish Edwardian domestic designs, and pieces which had a restrained Regency touch. His pieces were undoubtedly the finest produced in Australia in the second half of the 19th century. His contribution to the art of the goldsmith can also be seen in the range of masterworks and small domestic wares at the Art Gallery of South Australia, in public and private collections around the country.
William Edwards was a prolific silversmith who produced work of the highest quality with the best embossing ever seen in Australia. He had the advantage of being able to produce pieces here in Australia, and also to import other work from his family or brother’s workshop. Due to his success, he secured major commissions. Edwards introduced a new range of emu egg ‘novelties’ to Australian silver. The majority of his pieces were designed in the naturalistic and Rococo revival styles. His workshop also produced a number of silver pieces, occasional gold trophies and epergnes, some of which were displayed in many international exhibitions.
Pablo Picasso remains one of the most influential and prolific artists of the 20th century. At the age of seven, he began learning how to draw and do oil paintings under the tutelage of his father. In his lifetime, Picasso created more than 50,000 pieces of art in various mediums. As his final years approached, Picasso became a dervish of creativity. He took elements from his previous styles and repurposed them into stunning pieces. His art is featured in the world’s top galleries and fetches millions at auction. Picasso had a genius for finding beauty in the most mundane objects, and his style continues to have an impact on the art scene until now.
Dorrit Black never received the praise she deserved during her lifetime, but she has left us with some beautiful and interesting art. Despite considerable prejudice against her, she was determined not only to produce her own works but also to help other people in Australia enjoy the Modernistic and Cubist styles which were becoming so fashionable in Europe. Dorrit’s skills were wide-ranging. Perhaps, she was best known for her pioneering printing. She also produced some very fine watercolours, oils and was a skilled draughtswoman as well. Although Dorrit never achieved financial success during her lifetime, her paintings are now worth respectable prices.
At his young age, Claude Monet was both an artist and an entrepreneur. He would sell his charcoal drawings for 10 to 20 francs apiece. Monet learned how to use oil paints and outdoor or “en plein air” painting techniques from fellow artist Eugène Boudin. Monet’s works were among those that featured the modernisation of Paris in a unique way, with the essence of spontaneity and intuitive feeling visible on the canvas. Later in life, he focused more on the environment and atmosphere in his works while focusing less on modernity. Monet’s paintings were not only sought for locally but was quite popular in England and the United States as well.
Sandro Botticelli is the creator of probably two of the most famous paintings in the world. Botticelli was renowned for his numerous works depicting the Madonna but was also widely known for his mythological paintings. It is generally understood that he produced the under-drawings and his apprentices completed the pieces. Drawings that Botticelli himself completed were also copied by his assistants. His style was linear and thus easily imitated, which made identification of his own work extremely problematic. Although Botticelli symbolised the methodology of the Quattrocento period, he did not enhance or influence it with his own work. He had developed his own style, preferring the more Gothic approach.
The Doughty sisters were born to English explorer and writer Charles Doughty and his wife in San Remo, Italy. Freda ran modelling classes for children from their home. She would frequently use them as live models for the ceramic figurines that she fired in her own kiln. Dorothy, too, had a passion for nature and enjoyed painting. Together, the sisters had a huge impact on the survival of the Royal Worcester Company. Both with Freda’s children in the early 1930s, a little later, with Dorothy’s limited editions of birds for the American market. Different in tastes, different in what they produced, the sisters were united in a love of art and nature.
Georgia O’Keeffe was recognised as one of America’s most significant artists with her works commanding high prices. She was a prolific artist who produced about 2000 pieces of art. She influenced early American modernists as a part of the Stieglitz Circle. Flowers were a consistent motif in O’Keeffe’s work. And despite her renunciation of their interpretation of her works, she was also a great influence on the artists of the feminist movement. The deterioration of her health did not mar her will to create. At seventy-three, her work featured more of rivers and clouds in the skies. O’Keeffe’s legacy included 70 years of work and contributions to American modernism’s development.
Richard Sebright worked for the Royal Worcester company for fifty-six years. However, there is little information about the man himself. His work and his religion completely occupied his days. Every piece he worked on had to be the very best he was capable of. But because of this, he was never fast enough to make a good living. Yet, his fellow artists considered him to be the finest fruit painter of them all. When you look at his works, it is easy to understand why. Richard is remembered for his exceptionally fine fruit paintings, and also for his delicate watercolours of flowers.
Frederick Williams was noteworthy for not only being a prolific painter but is also celebrated for his etchings. He learned to draw in the traditional manner, copying from plaster casts. Fred became interested in etching from studying prints of Rembrandt and Goya at the British Museum and spent many hours making them. But when Fred returned home, he started to move away from his mainly figure-based work to painting landscapes. One painting sold for, what was at the time, the second-highest recorded price for any work sold at an Australian auction. Fred held more than 70 solo exhibitions both in Australia and abroad. His works can now be found in numerous galleries in Australia.
Edward J. Wormley is best known for his custom and limited-edition furniture designs for the Dunbar Furniture Corporation. He is honoured as one of the 20th century’s major designers of American modernist furniture. Ironically, Wormley married modern sensibilities to traditional designs that gave his modernist designs a distinctively muted warmth and a quality that defies time, making them stand out from among their contemporaries. He proved that one need not choose the new over the old and that new things can be made out of the old. A large number of Wormley’s popular pieces from the 1930s and 1940s were selling well even into the 1960s, and even command very high prices at auctions today.
The Italian Renaissance painter known as Titian was born Tiziano Vecellio. Titian commenced his career as an independent artist in Venice in 1510. He was the first artist to utilise the paintbrush as a means of expression in itself. Titian used colour pigments that were both readily available and much rarer. He would use the pigments undiluted and emphasise contrasting colours using light. It is thought that he used his fingers, as well as a brush, to blend and apply the medium, thus creating illusions of movement and chiaroscuro effects. As a master artist, Titian was commissioned by eminent persons of the day, from relatively minor royal and state personages to monarchs.
Milo Baughman was an American furniture designer best known for his chair, sofa, and table designs. Baughman’s designs were all about simplicity and functionality. He practiced restraint and resisted novelty ideas that would not stand the test of time. As a result, he excelled at creating pieces that were distinctive and had long-lasting appeal, all without sacrificing affordability. He is known for his claim that good design is equal to enduring design. Baughman left behind a body of work that became emblematic for furniture design of the 60s and 70s. His designs became so iconic that they are still used, copied, and built upon by furniture makers and designers up to this day.
John Perceval had his first exposure to art books when he attended Trinity Grammar and continued his hobby of drawing and painting by copying the old masters. When John was 14, he was disabled by poliomyelitis for more than a year and spent his recuperation by again copying art illustrations from books. In 1941, Perceval’s application for active military service was denied as he was declared unfit, but he was drafted to the Army Survey Corps as a draughtsman with the Cartographic Company. After the war, Perceval’s paintings turned to religious subjects. Despite a troubled life, John Perceval received many awards, took part in a number of exhibitions and influenced a few artists in his lifetime.
In an industry dominated by men, Charlotte Perriand stands out not merely because she was female, but because of an impressive oeuvre of beautiful, comfortable and functional designs. She was among the most important furniture designers and architects of the mid-20th century. Her work was anchored in “the art of living” or l’art de vivre. Perriand sought to make good design accessible. She knew how to use the current technology to realise good furniture. She developed designs that could be mass-produced, employing standardisation, prefabrication, and flexible use of materials. Today, her pieces command high prices and are found in major public and private collections.
Harry Austin trained as an artist from a young age. He won many medals for his drawings at this time. He started his career at Royal Worcester in 1910. Harry developed into a very skilled artist with a wide range of subjects. Birds were the most predominant feature of his many talents. He produced a series of amazing birds for the Australian market. He also made paintings of fruit, flowers and plants for the export market. So realistic were the paintings that one could almost reach out a hand to pick them. Harry retired in 1955 and left a legacy of a truly beautiful bird and fruit ceramic art.