Bessie Christie

Flowers, Fruit and Glass

Flowers, Fruit and Glass by Bessie Christie

Artwork Detail

Between 1933 and 1960, Bessie Christie was one of Auckland’s most active art exhibitors. She showed paintings regularly at the Auckland Society of Arts and Wellington’s New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts. As well as her exhibition activity, Christie was one of the most prolific painters associated with Auckland’s dynamic Rutland Group.

Flowers, Fruit and Glass is a vivid instance of local still-life painting after World War II. It reveals the radical nature of Christie’s approach: she chooses top lighting with a tipped-up perspective. Her painting concentrates interlocking textures and complimentary colours to emphasise the sinuous patterns that run across the painting. She also stresses a curvilinear composition to avoid making any of the forms appear static. Christie’s image glows and sparkles while appearing fresh and verdant.

The red tones of the grape juice, the pinks of the hoya flower and mauve of the fuschia blossoms introduce warm reddish hues into Christie’s colour palette of cool green and iridescent blue. There is a concentrated jewel-like quality to the painting and the only straight lines are the sides of the drinking glass and ceramic vase.

The framing of the composition is dynamic; it cuts into the edges of the fruits and across the enamel bowl. Christie lets the painting work like a pictorial window onto a still-life ‘scene’. By interspersing all the objects in the painting with both plain and patterned textiles, she creates a mysterious spatial environment that coheres the objects together. In fact, the still-life has a complex volumetric logic where all the objects are tipped up in the same plane.

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Flowers, Fruit and Glass
Bessie Christie
Production date
circa 1950
oil on board
486 x 393 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 2016
Accession no
Copying restrictions apply
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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