Trained at the National Gallery School, Melbourne
(1881-4) and then the Royal Academy Preparatory School, London,
Rupert Bunny went on to study with Jean Paul Laurens in
Paris. A painter of mythological scenes, landscapes and
figure studies, he spent much of his working life overseas, only
returning to settle in Australia in 1932-3 after the death of his
One of a series of balcony scenes, The Sonata (Au
balcon) depicts three women in evening dress bathed in
light. In this impressionistic work Bunny has used muted
tones and softly modelled figures to capture the charm and elegance
of the scene.
When this painting was being acquired Bunny wrote to the Mr. G.
K. Sutton, Honorary Secretary of the Gallery, that "The picture was
painted in 1910 and shown in the Royal Academy in 1911. I
called it The Sonata the idea being these women are
listening to music from the balcony of a room, which it really was,
as a Danish woman and a very fine pianist a friend of ours was
playing the "moonlight sonata".