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C O U R S E 
Sexing the Canvas: Art and Gender
Jeanette Hoorn, The University of Melbourne
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
Hilda Rix Nicholas in Morocco
Notes taken on August 8, 2017 by Edward Tanguay
Hilda Rix Nicholas (1884-1961)
Australian artist
1912 visited John Lavery's while visiting his studio in Morocco
one of the first Australian artists to visit Morocco
was in Morocco same time as Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
Matisse was the inventor of Fauvism
began to experiment with post-impressionism
applied paint broadly upon the canvas
loose brush strokes
flattening out the picture plane
had studied in the National Gallery School in Melbourne
before going abroad with her mother and sister to study in London and Paris
in Paris, studied at:
Académie Delecluse
Académie Colarossi
often attended Colarossi's studios to find a model instead of hiring one for himself
held an open studio
Nicholas and Matisse might have met there
both painted views from their Hotel Villa de France in Morocco
as well as views of the Bob El Asa
the gate with marked the entry to Tangier
they shared models
Rix Nicholas' study in pastels of a young Moroccan youth entitled Hamido Sleeps
drawn from the same model as Matisse's Moroccan Hamido
Matisse rarely worked en plein air
preferred the studio
both of the artists complained of the rainy weather, prevented them from getting out
Matisse painted flowers throughout his life
one of the few mainstream male artists whose artistic practice continually returned to the floral motif
Rix Nicholas produced few floral studies
instead painted portraits and national life, which was considered a male occupation
during two trips to Tangier
painted out in the souk (an open-air market in an Arabian city)
post-impressionist style
1912: "Marketplace with Pile of Oranges"
painted with flowing brush strokes in thick slabs of impasto
clearly delineates her figures
framed by buildings in the background
oranges arranged haphazardly across the foreground
striped skirts and bright haiks of women
multicolored costumes of two man located on the right-hand side of the composition
1914: "Through the Arch to the Sea"
painted a family
small alley way
white stone houses of the coast
the act of painting was frowned upon in Morocco and forbidden by some Muslims
she wrote in a letter home when sending a composition, "see how most of them are covering their faces, they have mostly cream draperies, and perhaps orange waistcoats, and little tight, mauve or green trousers, tied at the ankle."
difficult to paint oils in the market place
therefore executed most of her soko works in pencils and crayons
was fascinated by the marketplace
painting in public was tricky for a Western woman in Tangier
but not impossible as she demonstrated
cosmopolitan community with a Christian and Jewish quarter
a long history of contact with Europe
19th century, European artists traveled regularly there to paint
1830 France annexed Algieria
Eugene Delacroix was part of the official French delegation to Algiers
1833: Scottish painter David Roberts visited
1840s: Horace Vernet and Eugene Fromentin
1870s: Louis Comfort Tiffany
"When I first had a change to travel in the east and to paint, I found that the buildings are clad in beautiful hues, the preeminence of color in the world was brought forcibly to my attention."
by the middle of the 19th century, many European women traveled to non-Western countries
Lady Isabel Burton (1831-1896)
writer and the wife and partner of explorer, adventurer, and writer Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821–1890)
Barbara Bodichon (1827-1891)
English educationalist and artist, and a leading mid-19th-century feminist and women's rights activist
both wrote accounts of their travels
by 20th century, female artists began to arrive in Tangier to paint
Francis Hodgkins (1869–1947)
from New Zealand
painter chiefly of landscape and still life
1905 produced paintings of marketplace in Tangier
Emanuel Phillips Fox (1865-1915) and wife Ethel Carrick (1872-1951)
Australian Impressionist painter
1905 traveled to North Africa to paint
Hilda Rix Nicholas recognized the view from their paintings from her hotel room
pictures gaze across the Mediterranean to Spain
the sea is rough and the waves have white caps
Hilda painted a similar composition
subtle pallet of creamy white and pink tones and painted
the houses in the landscape are organized in Cezannesque blocks of color
focused on the everyday life of Moroccans
stressed the bonds and similarities which Europeans and Moroccans shared
her works made it clear that women played a prominent role in the life of the market
Berber women selling coal, brought to market on camels
independent women undertaking commercial roles in a public place
"Oh how you would love being with me today in the big soko. While a merry interested crowd gathered behind me, I put into my foreground one of the many women who had tramped 15 miles bearing a heavy load. She wore a scant attire made of a series of towels. Her face, all but the eyes, bound and veiled. Her legs were encased in primitive leather gaiters. The heels of her shoes were turned up. I got in my sketch before the teasing crowd had succeeded in informing her what was doing. Then I slipped away and got lost in the gaily colored multitude."
male artists were often interested in painting well worn themes of orientalism such as the adventures of the pashas and their harems
Hilda took what might described as a counter-orientalist view
sought to show that texture and color of the inhabitants, and their everyday life, especially the women, with their families and their animals, uniting the Arab experience with human beings everywhere
as a women, she was able to observe more closely than a male artist might have been able to
was one of the first Australian artists to paint in a post-impressionist style
one of the first woman artists to attempt to translate the life of the Maghreb into paint
after her expeditions to Morocco, she married an Australian sheep farmer
began recording the culture of the Australians
painting people of everyday life of pastoral Australia, especially women
1935: "The Fair Musterer"
encountered in Morocco radical aspects of post-impressionist practice
through contact with Henri Matisse
both went on to disregard oppressive gender stereotypes
painted in a way following their own ideas about gender