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Leonard French

Born 1928


Leonard French, in the words of his biographer Dr Sasha Grishin, is 'a painter who has consistently refused to repeat himself or to conform to fashionable trends'. Born in Melbourne, he travelled in Europe from 1949, working and studying in England, Ireland, Belgium and Holland. In 1959 the Peace Congress Prize took him to India, Indonesia, China and Japan. He continued his travels in Asia during 1960-61 with the Helena Rubinstein Travelling Scholarship and returned to Europe in 1962-63, spending some time on the Greek island of Samos. In 1965 he travelled in America on a Harkness Fellowship. French has become well known for public art commissions including glass mosaic, murals and tapestries, most notably the glass ceiling of the Great Hall at the National Gallery of Victoria. Many of his paintings are inspired by literary and historical sources, including the Bible and Homer's Iliadand Odyssey. They often deal with themes of creation and spiritual journeys of heroic endeavour. The title of the mural-scaled Anaximander, with its symbolic imagery of celestial circles, refers to the ancient Greek philosopher of that name. The cosmologist Anaximander of Miletus (c. 610-c. 545 BC) was one of the first to attempt to explain the origin and form of the universe. In the model he proposed, a cylindrical earth was at the centre of the universe, as in French's painting, surrounded by rings of fire hidden from view except through vents that revealed in turn the other planets, the stars, moon and sun. French's Anaximander, with its shimmering, richly textured, painted and glazed surface, epitomises his masterly fusion of highly ornamental technique and deeply symbolic content. French began exhibiting with Rudy Komon in 1960. He was awarded the Sulman Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1960 and the Blake Prize for religious art twice in 1963 and 1980. He is represented at the in the National Gallery, all state galleries and international collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Provenance: Joseph Brown Gallery, Melbourne. Collection of Ted Lustig, Melbourne. Exhibited: Spring Exhibition 1975, Recent. Acquisitions,Joseph Brown Gallery, Melbourne, 14 - 30 October 1975, cat. 59, illus.


National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of South Australia, Art Gallery of Western Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Queensland Art Gallery, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Newcastle Regional Gallery, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Hamilton Art Centre, Canada

Leonard French art

signed "French" lower right

Artwork Title:
enamel on composition board
183cm x 183 cm

signed "French" lower right

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