B. 1887 – 1935
Clarice Beckett was born in Casterton, Victoria and studied at the National Gallery Art School under famed tonalist Max Meldrum. She spent her adulthood caring for her invalid mother never straying from Victoria. Without room to paint at home, she trekked into the mist every morning and evening with a handmade trolley to work en plein air, occasionally finishing her scenes at the kitchen table. She never married, dying prematurely from pneumonia at age forty-eight.
After her passing, Beckett’s father destroyed 200 of her works that he considered unfinished or “not good enough”. The remaining 2000 were stored in an open-sided shed near Benalla, only to be discovered by curator Rosalind Hollinrake decades later; by then only 379 were salvageable, the rest laid to rest by bad weather and possums. Renowned critic John McDonald decried this “among the great disasters of Australian art history”.
Since being rediscovered, Beckett has entered the collection of every state gallery in Australia. She was featured in the National Gallery of Australia’s renowned ‘Know Her Name’ exhibition, which sought to redress gender imbalance in Australia’s art canon. For Beckett, lonely as she may have been, the world was ripe with self-renewing wonder. Her still unfolding legacy has been described as visionary.
Read her full story here.