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Ethel Carrick Fox

on the beach

Ethel Carrick Fox | England/France/Australia b.1872 | d.1952 | On the beach | c.1909 | Oil | on canvas | 36 x 42cm | Acc. 2011.086 | Gift of the Margaret Olley Art Trust through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 2011

On the beach c.1909

During the Belle Époque or ‘beautiful era’ in France, from the late 19th century until World War I, holidaymakers flocked to seaside resorts in their thousands. The painters Ethel Carrick and E Phillips Fox gravitated to beaches in the north, in Brittany — Dinard and St Malô — and Normandy’s Trouville and Deauville, which the French visited in significant numbers. Here, vacationers indulged in lavish hotels, luxury boutiques (Coco Chanel opened her second boutique in Deauville in 1913), horseracing and also gambling (the Trouville casino was built in 1912). The vogue for sea bathing was at its height, and extraordinary opportunities abounded for the Foxes to capture sunlit scenes of the good life amongst the leisured middle classes.

Carrick and Fox’s sketches at beachside resorts demonstrate many similarities in execution and subtle differences in subject choices. The artists were professional observers, capturing the typical sunlit scenes of the good life amongst the middle classes as Monet and Renoir had depicted in the 1870s. Ethel Carrick Fox’s sketches demonstrate her delight in capturing the movement and visual effects of beach crowds.