Beach scene

Born Casterton, Victoria, Australia 1887, died Melbourne 1935


Clarice Beckett studied under Frederick McCubbin at the National Gallery School, Melbourne (1914–16), and impressed by Max Meldrum’s tonal theories of painting, she attended his school in Elsternwick. Meldrum’s theory The scientific order of impressions influenced Beckett’s thinking, and Meldrum became a life-long colleague.

Beckett moved to live with her parents in Beaumaris, outer Melbourne in 1918, and spent her life there. She found her subject matter in local street and coastal scenes, including San Remo, where she holidayed in the company of other artists in the circle of Justus Jorgensen (a breakaway from Meldrum who had established the artists’ retreat ‘Montsalvat’, near Eltham, north of Melbourne).

Often painting plein air, Beckett’s restrained palette, thin paint and flat brush work were combined in unique evocations of light and atmosphere, suggesting the quietude of early morning, cool fogs or approaching dusk. Although calling herself a realist, Beckett’s works have a unique Australian style in the blend of late impressionism with leanings toward modernity.

A prolific artist of modestly scaled paintings, Beckett exhibited regularly with the Athenaeum Gallery in Melbourne, the Melbourne Society of Women Painters and the Twenty Melbourne Painters group. As with many female artists of her era, Beckett’s work received little attention until recent decades. Clarice Beckett – Politically Correct, a survey of her work, toured in 1999-2000.

Her work is represented in the National Gallery of Australia and numerous state collections and regional galleries.