The picture in the mirror
The picture in the mirror

Bernard Hall

1859 - 1935 The picture in the mirror 1930-35
  • oil on canvas
45.7 cm x 98.6 cm

Bernard Hall is best known for his 43-year tenure as Director of the National Gallery of Victoria and its Art School. He arrived in Melbourne in 1892 from England, where he had studied at the Royal College of Art and had worked as a painter and a graphic artist.

In 1905, funded by businessman Alfred Fenton’s gift to the gallery, Hall travelled to Europe to make the first Felton Bequest purchases. The choices he made on that trip, including works by J.M.W Turner, Claude Rodin and Camille Pissarro, remain among the gallery’s great treasures.

In addition to his roles as administrator and teacher, Hall continued his own practice as an artist. Nudes were among his preferred subjects, and the figure reflected in a mirror was a recurring theme.

The woman tends to be posited as one of a number of interchangeable still-life objects, all of which are carefully placed in the composition and painted with immense technical competence and near clinical detachment. Many of Bernard Hall’s nude studies actually show the same objects re-assembled, and the wooden chair in this painting, the mirror, the sideboard, the carpet and a picture on the wall are recurrent features. They are organised in an orderly, rational fashion, reminiscent of seventeenth century Flemish interiors.[1]

[1] Christine Sharkey in The Song of the Lamb: The Wesfarmers Collection of Australian Art, 1989.

Text by Robyn Johnston

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The Wesfarmers Collection of Australian Art acknowledges all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Custodians of Country and recognises their continuing connection to land, sea, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

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