An early taste for literature, Charles Conder
  • Artist
    Charles Conder
  • Born
    1868
  • Died
    1909
  • Title
    An early taste for literature
  • Date of Production
    1888
  • Medium
    Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions
    61 x 51 cm
  • Credit Details
    Mary Helen Keep Bequest, 1944

Charles Conder

An early taste for literature

Conder was originally sent to Australia by his father in 1884 in order to try and discourage him from pursuing an artistic career.  However, ignoring this, Conder studied art in NSW and Victoria before returning to Europe in 1890 to further his career.  Regarded as a something of a prodigy by fellow members of the Heidelberg School (which he joined after moving to Melbourne in 1888), Conder cultivated the reputation of a bohemian and revelled in the cultural life of the fin-de-siecle in Paris and London.

This work was painted at Griffiths' farm, Richmond - on the Hawksbury River, New South Wales,  just prior to the artist's  move to Melbourne.   The delicate branches of spring blossom,  which were later to become a recurring theme in his work, are a motif  ultimately derived from Japanese woodblock prints and ceramics, which were in vogue in the 1880's.   The painting certainly captures the atmosphere and the warmth of a spring day,  but it is the subject matter of a little heifer blithely consuming  the newspaper that turns the work into a lighthearted fable or conversation piece.  As such the work represents the opposite end of the spectrum to the more serious concerns of artists such as Roberts and Streeton.