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Conder, CharlesDate of birth and death: 1868-1909
Nationality: Australian, EnglishUploaded artworks: 1
Charles Edward Conder (24 October 1868 – 9 February 1909) was an English-born painter, lithographer and designer. He emigrated to Australia and was a key figure in the Heidelberg School, arguably the beginning of a distinctively Australian tradition in Western art.
In 1888, Conder moved to Melbourne where he met other Australian artists including Arthur Streeton, and shared a studio with Tom Roberts, whom he had previously met in Sydney. Short of cash, the attractive Conder apparently paid off his landlady by sexual means, catching syphilis in the process, which was to plague the later years of his life. During his two years in Melbourne, Conder worked with the other members of the school and produced a number of famous works, including Under The Southern Sun. This painting clearly shows the burning sunlight and desolation that can be inflicted by an Australian drought.
In Sydney and later Melbourne Conder associated with G. P. Nerli, an itinerant Italian painter and the bearer of new European influences who has been credited with shaping Conder's development. The extent of the influence has been debated, but the fact of it is undeniable. Like Conder, Nerli was a bon-vivant whose appreciation of the 'dam fine' 'Melbourne girls' survives in a letter to a mutual friend, Percy Spence.
Conder was a fun-loving man who painted with an often humorous touch. While staying with Tom Roberts in his famous Grosvenor chambers studio, he painted A holiday at Mentone (1888), which shows men and women at the beach relaxing while clothed from head to foot–the men in suits and hats; the ladies in long, girdled dresses with boots and pretty hats. The man and woman at the front of the painting face away from each other, yet possibly are interested in each other, each watching the other from the corner of their eye. The mood is one of simple elegance and with a relaxed feel, as in the background people are strolling along the beach into the distance. The composition of the painting has possibly been borrowed from a work by Whistler in which a bridge similarly transects the picture. Conder among other painters such as Frederick McCubbin had been directly or indirectly influenced by Whistler.
Conder left Australia in 1890, and spent the rest of his life in Europe, mainly England, but visiting France on many occasions. His art was better received in England than in Paris. In 1892, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec painted his portrait, a portrait that now hangs in the National Gallery of Australia. He continued to paint, but his output was severely affected by continual poor health, including paralysis and a bout of delirium tremens. He married a wealthy widow, Stella Maris Belford (née MacAdams) at The British Embassy Paris on 5 December 1901, giving him financial security. His later works are not nearly as well regarded critically as his earlier Australian paintings.
He spent the last year of his life in a sanatorium, and died in Holloway Sanatorium of "general paresis of the insane", in modern terms tertiary syphilis. In death, Conder's work was rated highly by many notable artists, such as Pissarro and Degas.
The Canberra suburb of Conder, established in 1991, was named after him
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