Study for ‘Endormies’

Born Melbourne, Australia 1864, lived Europe 1884–1933, died Melbourne 1947

Rupert Bunny studied at the National Gallery School, Melbourne from 1881–84 with fellow students Frederick McCubbin and E. Phillips Fox. He left Australia in 1884 to study in London and Paris, and exhibited with leading English and French art societies and galleries. In the following decade, Bunny developed a strong reputation as a painter of biblical and mythological subjects whose work incorporated colourful and theatrical elements.

At the beginning of the twentieth century Bunny began to focus on portraiture, landscapes and images of elegant women at leisure. With his career and reputation flourishing, Bunny married a former fellow student Jeanne Morel, who had been a regular model. Study for Endormies (c.1904) shows Jeanne resting, fan in hand and wearing a soft, flowing gown. In the final version of this work, Endormies (1904) (held in the National Gallery of Victoria Collection), the figure is located in an idyllic lakeside scene in the company of a companion and surrounded by swans and flowers, a vision of beauty and sensuality.

Bunny returned to Melbourne in 1933 and involved himself in the local art community, becoming Vice President of the Contemporary Art Society in 1936. The National Gallery of Victoria held a retrospective of his work in 1946. Rupert Bunny: An Australian in Paris was organised by the National Gallery of Australia and toured to the Art Gallery of New South Wales (1991–92).

Examples of his paintings are held in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, many state and regional galleries as well as public collections in France.