Oil Painting ‘The Girl in Red Tights’ Constance Stokes (1906 – 1991)

60 Objects Mulberry Hill

Daryl and Joan Lindsay’s home Mulberry Hill contains many important examples of Australian Art.  Both were trained artists, although Daryl is remembered for his role as Director of the National Gallery of Victoria and founding member of the National Trust of Australia (Victoria). Joan is famous for her iconic novel Picnic at Hanging Rock.

The walls of the dining room at Mulberry Hill are painted an ox blood red.  Joan used the funds from the novel’s proceeds to redecorate the room. Constance Stoke’s painting ‘Girl in Red Tights’ hangs against this strong dramatic colour.

Stokes trained at the National Gallery School in Melbourne.  Her work ‘Girl in Red Tights’ or ‘The Model’  received praise and notice during a tour of Australian Art to Britain in the 1953.  The exhibition ‘Twelve Australian Artists’ was a combined initiative between the Australian Government and British Arts Council aimed at celebrating the Queen’s Coronation. Stokes and Jean Bellette were the only women among the 12 Australians  profiled, the list included artists such as William Dobell, Russell Drysdale, and Arthur Boyd.

George Bell was an artist and teacher who formed the Contemporary Art Society, its members included laypeople, students and artists.  The dachshund resting at the feet of the model in Stokes’ painting belonged to George Bell. The painting was inspired by a live model who was undressing for a life drawing class that Stokes attended on Saturdays.

 

 

Constance Stokes' "Girl in Red Tights," with its Venetian richness of colouring, ably sustains the monumental harmony of the classical tradition.

Professor Joseph Burke, Professor of Fine Arts, Melbourne University. Sydney Morning Herald 4 Feb 1954