Tragedy enveloping comedy, Bertram Mackennal
  • Artist
    Bertram Mackennal
  • Born
  • Died
  • Title
    Tragedy enveloping comedy
  • Date of Production
  • Medium
  • Dimensions
    90.0 x 61.0 x 34.5 cm
  • Credit Details
    Gift of Mrs Brough-Bell, 1910 Placed on 'indefinite loan' by the National Gallery of Victoria, 1943

Bertram Mackennal

Tragedy enveloping comedy

The first and only Australian sculptor to be elected to the Royal Academy, Mackennal spent much of his adult life in Europe where he went to further his studies after studying at the National Gallery School (1878-1882).  In 1883 Mackennal moved to Paris where he worked briefly with Auguste Rodin before returning to England on the advice of Sir Arthur Gilbert RA , a leading British sculptor who believed that  Mackennal's work would be more appreciated there.

A sculptor of a great variety of work including statues, busts, medals and coins Mackennal was influenced by his exposure to late 19th Century French sculpture and the New Sculpture Movement in England that favoured smaller works featuring contemporary subjects that were symbolic yet treated in a naturalistic manner.

As Mackennal's experience widened he discovered that grace and power could exist side by side and Tragedy enveloping Comedy with its art-nouveau style faces and deeply folded drapery, contrasting against the soft curves of the body, replaces the intentional angularities of his earlier works.