Rupert Bunny | Australia/France 1864–1947 | Bathers 1906 | Oil on canvas | Purchased 1988 | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery
Oil on canvas
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery
One of a series of works by Bunny featuring women at leisure, Bathers was exhibited as Une scène au bain at the Paris Salon the year it was painted. Its scale and opulence is typical of salon paintings, but its unlikely combination of a luxurious Edwardian surface with Christian moral undertones gives it a particular frisson. Rupert Bunny combines the exotic kimono and elaborate contemporary fashions in a bath house, with all its connotations of oriental sensuality. While some of the ladies lounge in a state of undress, blowing smoke rings, the central figures recall the traditional Madonna and Child. The fallen roses are associated with the human frailty of the surrounding figures, while the rose in the hair of the mother expresses her purity. Bunny’s wife, Jeanne Morel, modelled for this figure.