Bessie Davidson & Sally Smart – Two artists and the Parisian avant-garde, Bendigo Art Gallery, 20 March – 26 July 2020; Innovative Australian Women, Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne, 25 March – 31 July 2020; Lauraine Diggins Fine Art Collectors’ Exhibition 2017, Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne, 3 June – 29 July 2017; Australian Women Artists: Between the Wars, Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne, 3 March – 25 April 2015
Bessie Davidson is known for her paintings of still lifes, interiors, portraits and landscapes, all of which are imbued with a beautiful use of light, tone and colour. After settling in Paris, the artist’s adopted home from 1910 onward, Davidson’s exceptional talents were recognised both there and abroad in 1931 when she was appointed the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur for Art and Humanity by the French Government. Her work was included in the exhibition Australian Impressionists in France, National Gallery of Victoria, 2013, and she was the subject of a book, A Studio in Montparnasse: Bessie Davidson: An Australian Artist in Paris (Penelope Little, 2003).
Her continuing interest in light, atmosphere and colour is perhaps most evident in her still-life paintings. The present work, Still Life with Bowl of Fruit, makes clever use of horizontal and vertical lines to focus the viewer’s eye, leading it around the picture plane. Although she never married, Davidson made strong connections with a large group of friends, particularly in Paris, becoming godmother to the daughter of Conrad Kickert, an artist, critic and collector and the original owner of this painting.